Powering Your Passion.
EOS Estate Winery — Nestled in Paso Robles, EOS is the first winery in a county blanketed with vineyards that has completely converted to solar power and the largest in California’s Central Coast to operate on 100 percent solar. The 540 kW SunTechnics installation comprises more than 3,000 PV modules and over two acres of ground-mounted tracking solar arrays in order to provide all the electrical power needs of the winery and tasting room. Of all the other potential suppliers, SunTechnics “came back with a much greater efficiency level with their system that allowed them to capture a larger amount of solar power than the other stable systems," said winery owner Jeff Hopmayer.
"We knew we wanted solar, and we knew it could be done on our site, but we just didn't know how it could be done in the most efficient way," he added. SunTechnic’s state-of-the-art active tracking system enables EOS to efficiently produce the most power possible throughout the day, avoiding hours of shading confronted by standard systems that are set to peak hours. The tracker turns from east to west once a day to deliver up to 25% more energy than fixed-tilt technology. Additional roof-mounted arrays provide all of the winery’s hot water needs using 60 solar hot water collectors. EOS’ leadership in the winery industry will save 360 trees planted, and over 21,000 tons of CO2 over 25 years. “We strongly believe in producing our wines in a way that is friendly to the land and environment as a whole,” notes Hopmayer.
One of the big benefits of choosing this highly efficient system, even though, in this case it will take longer to install, is that the winery gets rebated on the amount of energy it produces. If the building does not need the electricity, it goes out to the grid and EOS is paid a credit by the utility. In this sense, the grid is essentially being used as a big battery. The excess energy not being used by the winery will feed into the grid.
To support EOS’s financial objectives, California is progressive as far as tax credits are concerned, offering a 30 percent federal tax credit and plus a five-year accelerated depreciation for all solar PV systems and hot-water systems. For commercial businesses there's no credit cap. So, a commercial business like EOS will get the rebate, the tax credit, and the accelerated depreciation. This totals a savings of about $8.5 million on their electricity over a 25-year period. As electricity prices continue to rise, EOS will have secured its price of electricity at a much lower rate, so the savings will continue to increase. Hopmayer noted, “If you look at our monthly energy bill usage, the system is costing us less to fund per month than it would cost to pay our energy without the system.” For companies paying higher rates, like EOS, the credits and rebates make using solar a sort of no-brainer.
SunTechnics can also offer hands-off maintanence. The majority of EOS's equipment is warranted for 25 years, but the life expectancy of the entire system is actually much longer. Their maintenance contract frees EOS from doing any of the maintenance of the equipment itself-that's all left up to SunTechnics. Once the system is live, SunTechnics will monitor it online. If any performance issues arise, a SunTechnics rep would come out to take care of it. We also come onsite to perform a simple visual inspection of the electrical boxes once a year. And what about repairs? While we don't expect it to break, we design and build high quality systems. Yet, if a system does malfunction we'll go inspect the site and take care of whatever the problem. The monitoring system is very efficient, and does a greater amount of monitoring than even if a human were present.
To raise awareness of the project and maximize community support, the winery had several meetings with the town mayor with very positive outcome. "I've actually gotten some great comments from several local wineries who've been on the fence about going solar," said Hopmayer. EOS is excited about being a renewable energy leader in their region and the winery industry.
Clautiere Vineyards - The creative forces behind Clautiere Vineyard are Claudine Blackwell and Terry Brady. The couple has passionately rejuvenated and transformed a local ranch into a place of vibrant color and energy. This small winery in California's Central Coast region is reducing their electric bill by 80% with a SunTechnics 30 kWp photovoltaic system.
Installed atop the warehouses, Clautiere Vineyard's solar electric rooftop system is one of the first solar installations in the Paso Robles wine region. It lays flush with the existing roof structre to enhance the aesthetics of the buildings and generates enough electricty during the daytime to power 30 homes. The system is an integral part of Clautiere's efforts to offset its operations with renewable energy resources.
Colusa Rice Company — The Colusa Rice facility dries and stores harvested rice in sunny Central California. In 2007, it looked to solar power as a way to both help the environment and better manage energy costs. Their vision and wisdom led to the construction of a 314 kW solar electric system that is anticipated to generate more than 402,000 kW hours of electricity per year—enough to power 60 average homes. SunTechnics engineers made sure that all system components were optimized for Colusa to gain maximum yields; and, Suntechnics installers had the 1,848 modules in place within 6 weeks. Since the solar array installation provides more electricity than the company needs, it exports excess electricity to Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). The system, which will eliminate 143 tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year, qualified for a solar rebate of nearly $800,000 from PG&E’s self-generation incentive program.
Warmerdam Packing Center — Located in California’s sun drenched San Joaquin Valley, the Warmerdam fruit packing facility hosts one of the largest solar energy systems in the agriculture industry. The SunTechnics installation includes 6600 Conergy modules and was commissioned in early 2008. This roof-mounted solar array is anticipated to produce 1.2 MW annually. The Warmerdam plant is known for innovative handling, cooling and packaging of produce such as cherries and kiwis. To support this operation, the solar initiative will offset 60 percent of the electrical power needs of their packinghouse and cold storage facilities. Over the 25 year life of the system, it will reduce CO2 emissions equivalent to 124 million miles not driven.