Michigan Farm Energy Project Case Studies
When farmers were asked at the 2016 and 2017 Powering Michigan Agriculture Conference to rank the factors they would use when deciding to implement a renewable energy or energy conservation project, they said return on investment was their most important consideration. Many farms throughout Michigan have completed a certified agricultural energy audit and used the information in their audit to inform their decision to invest in a renewable energy project and/or energy efficiency practices. The following case studies provide valuable information on the impact of investing in a renewable energy project and/or energy efficiency practices on farm profitability.
Black Star Farms is a unique wine and culinary destination located near Suttons Bay, Michigan that includes a luxury inn, event spaces, a farm-to-table cafe, a distillery, and an equestrian facility. The farm installed a 53.04 kW fixed, ground-mounted solar array with a vibrated I-beam structure. Electricity generated by the solar system is sold to the grid.
King Orchards Fruit Co. LLC is a large fruit producer and processor located near Kewadin, Michigan. The farm grows cherries, apples, peaches, pears, apricots, raspberries, plums, and nectarines over 400 acres. While growing fruit is their core operation, King Orchards now encompasses two retail stores, a cherry juice concentrate processing facility, as well as farmers’ market and U-pick operations. The farm installed a 52 kW fixed, ground-mounted solar array with a vibrated I-beam structure. Great Lakes Energy allows the farm to bank excess electricity produced during the day back onto the grid for use on days when the system doesn’t produce enough to meet the electrical needs of the farm and credits their account at $0.06/kWh.
Pork Chop Hill Farm LLC is a large pork producer located near Reading, Michigan. The farm sells approximately 38,000 hogs per year from their wean-to-finish operation, a large portion of which is contracted out to contract growers. They operate a large, automated feed system with a grain dryer to supply to their on-site and contracted livestock. They also farm approximately 1,500 acres for cash crop and raise a small flock of sheep. The farm implemented two solar energy projects. The first one was a 19.76 kW solar energy system to provide close to 100% of the electricity usage for their house and hog barn. The second one was a 75 kW fixed, ground-mounted solar array with a vibrated I-beam structure designed to offset 90% of annual energy usage for the farm’s machine shop, feed mill, and grain dryer system.