BURROUGHS FAMILY FARMS
At Burroughs Farms, a 900-acre almond orchard near Denair, going to solar power produced more savings than even a special discount program it received from Pacific, Gas & Electric.
“We had a pretty good rate,” said Benina Montes, a Burroughs Farm partner. “It was through the internal combustion conversion program from PG&E and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control Board. Switch out your diesel and put in electricity.”
Montes, a 2001 Cal Poly San Luis Obispo graduate, said her due diligence included talking with neighbors that had added photovoltaic solar panels through JKB Energy and getting quotes from competitors.
“We had a good relationship with JKB Energy and their numbers were good,” she said. “Everything was dialed in based on our numbers. They even met with our accountant.”
The Burroughs Farms solar installation, with both single- and dual-axis panels, totals 4.9 acres and is on five sites. The green energy is used to power six water pumps for irrigation. Three of the sites were completed in 2010 and two in 2011.
The installation was challenging said Montes. The ground was uneven, there were trees to remove, and there were weather issues. However, she said JKB Energy met all its deadlines.
With the solar panels projected to produce 80 percent of electrical needs for irrigating, Montes said the project would pay for itself within seven to 10 years.
The solar project also meets her family’s philosophy of natural is better.
“My brother and sister have organic dairies that border me,” said Montes. “We’re trying to be better stewards of the land. Solar fits in with our family’s ideals.”
She hopes success of Burroughs Farms’ solar installation will be an example for other farmers.
“We really enjoyed working with JKB, and we need to figure out how to get more people onboard with solar,” said Montes.