Fowler Packing goes big on solar

01/04/2013 03:09:00 PM
Mike Hornick

Courtesy Don Pickett & Associates Inc.Fowler Packing Co. is running a 2.3-megawatt solar power system installed by Don Pickett & Associates Inc. in Fresno, Calif.Fowler Packing Co. is drawing half of its power from an array of solar panels covering 10 acres in Fresno, Calif.

The 2.3-megawatt system is among the largest privately owned commercial systems in the state, said Fowler Packing’s Leland Parnagian.

The project, installed by Fresno-based Don Pickett & Associates Inc., took about six months for construction and went online in October.

“The power generated on that 10 acres goes to supply our packing and storage operations and covers about 50% of our usage,” Parnagian said. The investment will pay for itself in about five years, he estimates.

The company is now packing citrus. It packs other tree fruit and table grapes in summer.

“Solar power provides one more way Fowler Packing can continue to make investments in the future and the long-term sustainability of our company,” Justin Parnagian, director of sales, said in an e-mail. “Environmental responsibility is an important consideration at every stage of our operation. By generating solar power we can further this commitment while also making a sound economic decision.”

It uses 8,256 solar panels. A single-axis tracker follows the sun through the day. A 3,000-foot trench is used to transfer power from the array to the meter.

It’s expected to produce 4.3 million kilowatt hours annually, said Mike Pickett, partner in Don Pickett & Associates Inc.

Seventy percent of the system cost will be reimbursed through federal tax credits and incentives from the California Solar Initiative, Pickett said.

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