The new solar photovoltaic panels that Prime Time Produce is installing at its bell pepper packing plant in California’s Coachella Valley will supply almost all of the power it needs during peak periods and more than it needs during the off-season.
“It’ll have a big impact,” said Prime Time CFO Raun Singleton, “A real big impact.”
Prime Time is the largest grower, packer and shipper of sweet peppers—those red, green and yellow ones—in the United States, according to a press release.
The agricultural company’s main operation is in the desert climate of the Coachella Valley, where not all alternative energy sources would be viable.
“But if there’s one thing we have plenty of around here, it’s sunshine,” Singleton said.
He said the company has long wanted to find a good alternative energy source and while the sun seemed like an obvious choice, he worried about the extreme heat in the Coachella Valley.
Solar Photovoltaic cells tend to perform at lower efficiencies in high heat.
Singleton said Sunvalley Solar, the company that approached Prime Time about installing solar panels, assured the company that they could retain high energy outputs even in extreme heat.
Most of the 285,000-kilowatt system will be installed on the roof of Prime Time’s 75,000 square-foot packing plant, Singleton said.
“There’s certainly a cost benefit to it,” Singleton said.
Along with reduced energy costs, the company will benefit from state and federal tax credits and incentives.
Sunvalley Solar, located in Walnut, Calif., has announced a number of new contracts with different growers and agricultural companies in the central part of the state over the last few weeks.
No one at Sunvalley was available for comment, but the company does seem to be growing a strong agricultural business.
The appeal makes sense, Singleton said.
While there is a financial incentive behind the decision to go solar, the company decided to do it for ethical reasons as well, he said.
“We’re farmers, so we believe in taking care of the land,” Singleton said. “This is something we can feel good about doing. We have a lot of equipment here and this makes a difference.”
Image courtesy of Sunvalley Solar.