Solar Makes Green Acres In Massachusetts

We write a lot about “wind farms,” but those are really power plants, not farms. These are real farms, three farms that grow stuff that people consume – and they operate it in a very green fashion indeed.

Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. and Ag Resources Commissioner Scott Soares recently toured these farms, one in Granby and two in Hadley, to showcase how state support helped encourage the use of clean, renewable energy in agriculture. In particular, they showed how solar power was being used to power farm equipment and cold storage facilities.

Red Fire Farm

image via Red Fire Farm

The first farm that the officials toured was Red Fire Farm, where a 24-kilowatt (kW) capacity photovoltaic system produces 25,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity annually, meeting more than a third of the farm’s energy needs. Local clean energy company PV2 provided the panels and Kurtz, another local company, installed and built the supporting structure. State and federal grants totaling around $150,000 helped pay for the system.

Winter Moon, the second farm, completed two green initiatives. The first was a cold storage unit that was transformed from a former tobacco barn to a super-insulated, non-mechanical “free cooling” system. The unit maintains a consistent temperature of 34 degrees Fahrenheit year-round and keeps the humidity at nearly 100 percent. Winter Moon also installed a 34-kW capacity photovoltaic system that generates nearly 35,000 kWh of electricity annually, providing all the energy the farm needs. Winter Moon received around $50,000 in government backing.

green farms in Massachusetts, Mapleline Farm

image via Mapleline Farm

The final farm, Mapleline, had already installed energy efficient milking equipment to reduce its energy needs, then got about $30,000 in grant money to help put in a 9.68-kW capacity rooftop-mounted photovoltaic system on its dairy farm. The system will generate around 10,500 kWh of energy annually, offsetting about one-third of the farm’s energy needs.