As part of our sustainability goal and being good stewards of the land, we installed solar panels in 2016. The solar system provides at least 136kW of energy, which will provide at least 88% of our electricity needs. The solar panels are on our heifer barn as well as along two sides of the cow lanes going from the dairy out to the fields as we wanted to reduce the footprint of the solar and not take productive land away from growing grass for the cows.
We received grants from the USDA Rural Energy for America program, as well as from the Maryland Mathis program. These grants were very helpful as they made it possible to purchase the solar panels and not lease them. As part of the Mathias grant, we installed energy efficiency measures including recovering waste energy from the heating and cooling of milk, as well as increasing the efficiency of the store walk-in refrigerator. We will see at the end of 2017, but believe the 88% from the solar may increase to 100%!