The last two solar power generating stations of Gold Dust and Walker Brothers' Solar Initiative have been activated by Pacific Power and Light.
The two solar stations are located at potato storage cellars outside of Merrill and near the Gold Dust Potato Processors' Malin campus. To ensure constant and consistent exposure to sunshine, the solar panels were installed on the top of the potato cellars. The Merrill solar power station (referred to as the Home Cellar Solar Station) was approved and activated at the beginning of August while the final station at the McVay Malin potato cellar on Drazil Road was approved and activated this week. The Home Cellar Solar Station is estimated to produce 13,860 kilowatt hours (KWH) of electricity annually while the McVay Cellar station is estimated to produce 124,702 KWH every year. The cumulative amount of electricity generated by the Gold Dust Solar Initiative is estimated to be 326,855 KWH, which represents over 90% of the 351,240 KWH of electricity used to power their Malin potato processing plant alone.
"These solar power stations will cut down on our power costs as well as give our customers a positive feeling when working with Gold Dust,"says Bill Walker, CEO of Gold Dust Potato Processors. "They're good for our business in the long run, good for the environment and good for our community."
The Gold Dust Solar Initiative began in January of 2011 with the installation of panels at an irrigation pump outside of Malin and with a large bank of solar panels at the processing shed. With assistance from RS Energy, Obsidian Financial and the Oregon Feed-In Tariff program, Gold Dust and Walker Brothers have been able to add green energy to their sustainable agriculture portfolio.
The Oregon Feed-In Tariff program offers incentives for businesses and individuals to set up environmentally-friendly, solar power systems that match their annual power usage. Gold Dust applied for the green energy systems, for which they were awarded several allocations for 10 KW and 100 KW systems. The six solar stations have been installed at four potato storage cellars around Merrill and Malin, at an irrigation pump and at Gold Dust's processing plant.
Gold Dust Potato Processors were awarded the 2010 Environmental Stewardship Award from the National Potato Council for their sustainable farming efforts.
Packing Shed Solar Station. Located at the south end of the packing shed, this is the largest bank of solar panels we had installed. Total power generated is estimated to be 146,713 kilowatt hours (KWH) annually, which is 42% of the electricity used by that facility.