GROWMARK has been looking at alternative sources of energy for its Alpha, Ill. distribution center since 2010. After previous opportunities to use solar or wind power did not add up for the company, they found the right fit with a solar project completed in the summer of 2018.
GROWMARK is working with Straight Up Solar and investment partner Shine Development Partners, which actually owns the solar array. GROWMARK signed a 25-year agreement to buy power generated from the 525-kilowatt array at reduced rates. Because Shine Development Partners actually owns the array, GROWMARK’s only expense was building a fence to go around the facility. The company expects to save between $9,000 and $12,000 per year over the life of the 25-year contract. The project is designed to power the distribution facility only and not to provide power back to the grid for sale to other entities.
“It should generate most of the power needed for the distribution center,” said Tracy Mack, Director of Supply Chain Optimization and Logistics. “We run the facility 24 hours a day, six days a week, so at nighttime when the solar panels aren’t generating we’ll pull utility power.”
Mack said the company also used pollinator mix available from its FS member companies instead of gravel to fill in the area around the solar panels – a “win-win” from the standpoint of environmental sustainability. He expects GROWMARK will look to expand the project to other facilities if this one proves successful.
Listen to Carrie’s interview with Tracy Mack here: Interview with Tracy Mack, GROWMARK