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Sundale Vineyards puts in 1.13-megawatt solar energy system to power cold storage

Sundale Vineyards in Tulare, CA, has recently completed the installation of a 1.13-megawatt solar photovoltaic power generating system that will supply power to the company’s cold storage facility.

The installation “will power the entire cold storage for the season,” said Sean Stockton, president of Sundale Sales, the company’s marketing arm. “We cleared out eight acres” to put in the installation, which is located directly south of the cold storage facility and packing plant.

“We are trying to do what we can” to reduce the company’s carbon footprint and “too have the greenest impact we can,” he said.

05-EarlySJV-Sundale-SolarThe new solar installation. (Photo courtesy of Sundale Sales)According to a data sheet provided by Stockton to The Produce News, the solar installation, which was engineered and installed by Cenergy Power, will provide nearly 1.7 million kilowatt hours of clean energy annually and offset the electricity bill for Sundale’s cold storage facility by 91 percent.

Sundale expects “a rapid four-year simple payback on the investment” and anticipates saving an estimated $5.7 million in electricity costs over the next 25 years, according to the data sheet.

“This solar project is a testament to our commitment to the environment and social responsibility,” said Todd Kinosian, owner of Sundale Vineyards, in a written statement. “Sundale firmly believes that environmentally  conscious agriculture practices are vital to the sustainable growth of the industry.”

Sundale’s table grape volume has been increasing over the last several years as young acreage comes into production. Those increases will be seen in the early as well as the mid and late season varieties, Stockton said.

“Our focus and our strength to our program has always been the late season grapes,” particularly with the Autumn King, Scarlet Royal and Autumn Royal varieties “on the back end of the season,” he said. “But we have increased the front end of our program significantly over the last couple of years to where an early start on Sugraones and Flames is an integral part of our program.”

For the 2014 season, the company expects to be up about 20 percent on early varieties, he said.

Sundale expects to start Sugraones, Flames and Summer Royals around the first of July, which is a week to 10 days earlier than normal. “The crop looks excellent,” he said May 27.

“We are going to be packing a full variety of products from clamshells to the pouch bags that have become the industry standard now,” Stockton said. The company will be packing bicolor and tricolor clamshells in two-, three- and four-pound sizes in its house pack facility.