Solar powered dairies

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I had the pleasure of visiting a couple dairies in California last month (March 2009) who installed solar power on their operations. It’s exciting to think that the sun is being harnessed to power these operations.

            Scott Brothers Dairy in Moreno Valley, Calif., put in its first solar array this past year. Scott Brothers put the top of their existing commodity shed to use, and installed the solar array there. The commodity shed wasn’t constructed with solar in mind, but the dairy brought in an engineer to install structural improvements so they could mount the array on the roof.

            At Elkhorn Dairy in Visalia, Calif., they have a 1-megawatt system in place that provides 80 percent of the dairy’s electricity. The system at Elkhorn Dairy sits between the dairy’s above-ground lagoon and irrigation canal, about a five-acre area. Elkhorn Dairy’s solar panels track the movement of the sun.

            Both dairies took advantage of state and federal incentives to install their solar arrays.