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One of California’s Largest Grape Growers Turns to Solar

Today, Solar FlexRack, a division of Northern States Metals, announces that it has delivered and installed its G3L preassembled racking systems at Four Star Fruit farm in California’s Central Valley. Teaming with EnPro Solar, the project’s prime EPC and general contractor, Solar FlexRack was able to install their racking systems and mount the 4,160 Trina PV Modules in less than a month.

“We had a green light to start the project with permit in hand on December 3rd and had to have the entire DC array installed by December 31st ,” noted Gene Okun, EnPro’s Solar and Generation Manager. “Heavy rains and the holidays made this challenging, but with Solar FlexRack’s preassembled system and turnkey installation capabilities, we were able to go from ‘dirt’ to installed modules on the racks in less than a month.”

Four Star Fruit, a premier grower, packer, and shipper of fresh and Certified Organic table grapes grown in Delano, California operates a 170,000 square feet refrigeration plant that is capable of cooling down 1 million boxes of grapes at once. With a 10-15% annual growth rate since 2009 and a doubling of its energy consumption, Four Star Fruit faced rising energy costs due to numerous rate increases and excessive demand utility charges. The new solar PV system is expected to offset over 60% of the facility’s energy costs, representing an annual $330,000 savings on its utility bills.

“Beyond the compelling economic case behind our decision to go solar is our ongoing commitment to more sustainable operations company-wide, from organic farming techniques to eco-friendly packaging and LED lighting,” said Four Star Fruit’s Plant Manager, Jesse Munguia. “Our customers include WalMart, Costco, Kroger and Trader Joe’s, and their customers are looking for more sustainably sourced products, giving us a competitive edge.” Over the life of the system, 43,047 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) will be eliminated from Four Star Fruit’s carbon footprint.

The vertical and horizontal rails of the all steel Solar FlexRack Series G3L deployed at Four Star Fruit ships to the job site as one completely pre-assembled unit and can be unfolded and set up in a matter of minutes. Solar FlexRack, working with MbarC Construction, one of their certified turnkey partners, also installed the racking systems and mounted the panels on this project. “Our ability to provide preassembled racking systems and a full suite of turnkey services represents a significant opportunity for our EPC and installer partners to implement a seamless installation and stay on schedule,” added Steve Daniel, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Solar FlexRack.

EnPro developed the PV solar system for Four Star Fruit as part of a larger energy project that has already reduced the grower’s energy consumption with other technologies such as LED lighting. “EnPro benefits greatly on this project as it validates our continuing pursuit for providing all of our customers with the absolute largest energy and carbon footprint reduction possible. Four Star Fruit now will get most of their power from the sun for the next 40 years and is basically farming solar side by side with farming grapes,” added Okun.

The on-grid, 1.268MW PV System was self-funded by Four Star Fruit, taking advantage of federal tax credits and Southern California Edison’s Demand Response and Energy Efficiency incentive programs.

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About Solar FlexRack

As a division of Northern States Metals, Solar FlexRack offers ground and tracking systems; along with a number of engineering and field support services. The company has over 860 MW of solar racking installations in place in twenty-seven states across America and four countries globally. More information can be found at www.solarflexrack.com

 

About EnPro

EnPro is a general energy and electrical contractor with over a decade of successfully protecting businesses from the operational, legislative, and financial impacts of the energy crisis. EnPro develops comprehensive energy strategies that deliver profit-justified sustainable results. Technology expertise ranges from lighting to solar to onsite power generation. Their sustainability and energy track record now exceeds 800 projects completed and their mission is to be the respected, trusted, and competent first choice organization for mitigating energy challenges for all businesses. www.enpronow.com

 

About Four Star Fruit

Located in Delano in California’s Central Valley Four Star Fruit was established in 1990 and is today one of California’s largest growers, packers and shippers of fresh table grapes, specializing in numerous varieties of grapes that can be found in grocery stores across the country. Four Star Fruits is committed to innovative business practices and a healthier environment and society. The family-owned company continues to grow at a rapid pace. www.fourstarfruit.com