Like the grapes for wine, it’s taken some time for the King Estate Winery’s plans for a solar array to reach fruition. But after five years, its new photovoltaic array is beginning to see the light of day.
It’s not the first winery in the U.S. to go solar—other wineries, like the Sonoma Wine Co. in California and Corrales Winery in New Mexico beat them to the punch. But the system will be one of the biggest at a winery in the U.S. and the largest at a winery in the Pacific Northwest.
The organic winery, which makes Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir outside of Eugene, Ore., is installing a 973.84-kilowatt photovoltaic array. Advanced Energy Systems began installing the fixed ground-mount system this month, which should be complete in mid December, said AES General Manager Craig Strobeck.
King Estate and AES began talking about installing solar at the winery in 2006, according to Strobeck.
“There were starts and stops and roadblocks,” he said.
The project was ready to go in 2008.
“Then the stock market went south, and a financier pulled out,” he said. “Like a lot of projects, they had to go back to the drawing board.”
Ultimately, the winery found a project financier in SolarCity. King Estate will purchase the electricity produced by the system through a power-purchase agreement with SolarCity, according to Strobeck.
“We actually brought SolarCity into the mix,” Strobeck said. “This is the first time we’ve worked with SolarCity with any project, and our experience so far is very good.”
The nearly 1 megawatt array will supply roughly 60 percent of King Estate’s electricity load, according to Strobeck. When it’s producing more electricity than the winery can use, the system will feed excess electricity into the grid through Lane Electric Co-op. When it’s not producing enough, it will purchase power from the local utility.
Lane will use the power produced through the system to help it meet its requirements under Oregon’s renewable portfolio standards.
"This project is very exciting in that it dovetails perfectly with Lane Electric's mission and vision for renewable energy as we look to the future. It is good for our members, the co-op and the environment," Rick Crinklaw, Lane’s general manager, said in a press release.