May 25, 2007

Nation’s largest farm-based solar plant opens in Central Valley

Paramount Farms Inc. of Los Angeles, known for its massive production and marketing of pistachios and almonds, has a new crop today – the Central Valley’s sunlight.  According to a report in Central Valley Business Times, it has switched on what it calls the largest farm-based solar power plant in the nation.  The 1.1 megawatt, $7.5 million solar energy plant is near Lost Hills in western Kern County.  It’s expected to supply about 15 percent of the energy that the company’s nut processing facility uses each year.  “Paramount Farms … is committed to a balanced green strategy, one that utilizes clean energy to reduce costs and improve efficiency,” says Dave Szeflin, vice president of operations for Paramount Farms.  The plant was built and installed by SolarCraft Services Inc. of Novato.  According to Chris Bunas, vice president of SolarCraft, the 1.1 megawatt plant is expected to generate enough clean electricity each day to power about 300 average homes, cutting nearly 2,600 tons of harmful greenhouse gases annually.  Paramount Farms, a unit of privately held Roll International Corp., grows pistachios on 30,000 acres — the largest in the Western Hemisphere and is California’s largest almond grower, with more than 40,000 acres of permanent almond orchards.

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