|Mar 01, 2011 --
Warren Lyall, whose grandfather started Lyall Enterprises, Inc. in 1933, cultivates 205 acres of Valencia oranges in rural San Diego County. In order to comply with county regulations that require farmers to reduce municipal water use by 30%, Warren dug several wells to access ground water. The farm is now completely self-sufficient in water use. Unfortunately, the cost to power the well pumps has resulted in large and growing utility bills jeopardizing the financial feasibility of the farming operation.
In 2010, Warren sought USDA assistance through the Rural Energy for America Program to finance installation of a solar system to offset the farm’s utility costs. USDA Rural Development provided a$203,000 grant and $406,000 Guaranteed Loan originated by American Ag Credit and Warren used $203,000 of personal savings.
Installed in July 2010, the system was sized to produce 204,605 kW annually, which represents 98% of the electricity historically used to power the farm’s irrigation pumps.
In addition, Warren received Federal Investment Tax Credits and California’s Solar Initiative Production Based Incentive. With these incentives, Warren expects his investment in this project to be fully repaid in just over 2 years, but will provide them with a permanent reduction in their cost of electricity.
This project has also benefited the local utility by helping them meet their goal of using more renewable energy sources. Additionally, the energy being generated by this solar project has its maximum production in the afternoon hours, which is the time of peak electricity demand for the utility. However, the farm irrigates its orchard at night when demand for electricity from the grid is less, benefiting everyone.
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