7,000-cow dairy now powered by solar energy

Rabobank Published on 25 May 2011


Lakeside Dairy in Hanford, California, has installed a new solar energy system to power its milking barn and other dairy operations and cut its use of conventional energy by 75 percent. The family-run dairy operation has 7,000 head of cattle and a custom farming business.

Developed, designed and installed by SPG Solar, the 891-kilowatt solar energy system consists of 3,240 Suntech solar modules and two Solaron inverters. It is projected to generate over 1.7 megawatt hours annually – enough to offset over 75 percent of the dairy’s utility power usage.

“The recent volatility of milk prices has underscored the importance of hedging our input costs,” said Mike Monteiro, the dairy’s owner. “The solar energy system will help us fix our energy costs and hedge against long term increases in utility power rates.” The four-acre solar energy system powers Lakeside’s entire dairy operation, including the 11,000 square foot milking barn, heifer corral lighting and fans, manure separator equipment, and well and irrigation equipment. Rabobank, N.A., a community bank that provides solar financing to California farms, businesses and public entities, is providing the construction and term financing for the solar project.

“By combining the savings from lower utility power bills with federal and state incentives, Rabobank structured the term loan to potentially be cash flow positive throughout the lifetime of the loan,” said Gianluca Signorelli, vice president of renewable energy finance for Rabobank. “Once the loan is repaid, the solar system is likely to create even larger savings for Lakeside Dairy.”

“Lakeside Dairy continues to show its commitment to solar that positively impacts their operations today, reducing future electricity costs and investing in the community through the creation of green jobs,” said CEO and President of SPG Solar, Chris Robine. “They are laying out a long-term strategy towards the sustainable production and quality of food produced.”

The solar project is the latest effort by Lakeside Dairy to become more sustainable. The farm’s manure-handling equipment removes about 50 tons of solid manure a day, thus preventing it from going into the lagoon and giving off gases from decomposition. PD

—From Rabobank, N.A. news release

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