Long Meadow Ranch Goes Totally Solar
February 14, 2005, Rutherford, CA
Organic and sustainable farming pioneer Long Meadow Ranch has completed installation of a combined 60-kilowatt solar power system which will eliminate 100 percent of its annual electricity costs. "We are truly committed to operating in a sustainable fashion," said owner Ted Hall. "This system will completely meet our commercial and residential power needs. In fact, we expect to be a modest net contributor to the local grid. Our clean production will avoid nearly 70 tons annually of carbon monoxide from a natural gas power plant."
The 50-kilowatt commercial system employs a 5,100 square foot solar panel array. The array is completely hidden from view in a location about half a mile from the main winery building and provides electricity for all winery and olive oil operations, administrative functions, shops, barns, water systems, and the foreman's residence.
An additional separate 10-kilowatt solar system was installed to provide 100 percent power for the Ranch's main residence. It, too, is hidden from all views.
Both systems, installed by Sun Power Geothermal Energy, were designed to function within California's net metering regulations which means the public utility must credit renewable energy producers for the electricity produced and sent out to the grid. Solar energy not used by the Ranch is automatically sent out to the utility grid, effectively causing the electric meter to run backward. Long Meadow earns credits for the electricity they produce and is able to tap into those credits at night and during cloudy days.
Working closely with owner Ted Hall and CFO Les Denend at Long Meadow Ranch, Sun Power crafted a feasibility study utilizing prior usage, patterns of usage, cost of installation and materials, and anticipated future use to determine the system appropriate for their needs. Considering public utility rates vary during different times of the day depending on anticipated demand, previous patterns of usage allowed Sun Power to create a "most profitable" rate schedule for LMR.
The schedule allows LMR to schedule certain electricity usage at a time when the PG&E power is least expensive, thereby allowing LMR-generated power to return to the PG&E grid when it is most expensive (for example, during summer afternoons), generating the most credits for LMR. "We're doing a kind of 'power arbitrage' by sending high priced electricity to PG&E at peak demand times and using power for our own operations during off-peak periods," said CFO Denend.
LMR owner Ted Hall said, "This renewable source of energy - and ultimate profit center - is the latest addition to underscore our sustainable philosophy at the ranch. Going to 100 percent solar power is consistent with other green practices we have adopted like 100 percent use of biodiesel fuel in our tractors, propane-powered "clean" vineyard heaters (instead of smudge pots) for frost control, and propane torch scorching for in-row vineyard weed control."
The total installed cost of the combined photovoltaic system was nearly $545,000. Importantly, the installation was eligible for federal and state subsidies and rebates, bringing the net cost down to less than half of the gross cost. Based on prior usage, the energy cost savings over the warranted life span of the solar panels will total $781,000. "However, I am confident that we will save more than $1 million before this system needs to be replaced," concluded Hall.
Installation photography is available upon request.
For further information, see SunPower's Long Meadow Ranch
Case Study (437KB)
Long Meadow Ranch is an innovative organic farming operation - and purveyor of fine food - located high above the Napa Valley on the picturesque slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains where it produces extraordinary red wine, extra virgin olive oil, grass-fed beef, eggs, and heirloom fruits and vegetables for Napa Valley's finest restaurants. Long Meadow Ranch produces ultra premium wines and extra virgin olive oils, under the Long Meadow Ranch Winery, Ranch House Red, Prato Lungo, and Napa Valley Select labels. Beyond the Napa Valley, Long Meadow Ranch wines and olive oil have been regularly featured by the America's top chefs.
Long Meadow Ranch has been known as such since 1872 when it was established as an original "patent grant" ranch signed over by President Ulysses S. Grant. Having been home to a variety of uses during its long history, Long Meadow Ranch continues to grow and prosper through Ted, Laddie and Christopher Hall's stewardship.
The Halls continue to restore and preserve Napa Valley's oldest olive groves, as well as add new plantings of olive trees and vineyards. They have also brought cattle, poultry and vegetables back into commercial production. Appaloosa horse breeding, along with an extensive composting operation, round out the integrated farming activities at the Ranch.
"Excellence through Responsible Farming" is the motto of Long Meadow Ranch, bolstered by the belief that world-class products can be produced using sustainable, organic farming methods. Long Meadow Ranch does not use herbicides or pesticides and its products are organically grown and certified by the California Certified Organic Farmers.
Contact: Chris Hall