Akeena Completes Solar Project for Vineyard

Cooper-Garrod Vineyards officially commissioned its solar power system at a recent ceremony timed for the first day of spring. Saratoga Mayor Kathleen King officiated, and was joined by over 100 local dignitaries, visitors, wine aficionados and equestrians.

Cooper-Garrod is a family owned and operated 28-acre estate vineyard and winery located above the village of Saratoga on un-irrigated hillsides in the eastern Santa Cruz Mountains. This is the second Santa Cruz Mountains winery to install an Akeena Solar system in a year. The 17-kW system is used to run the tasting room, wine offices, stable offices and riding-arena lighting. The 96 rooftop solar modules will replace the equivalent 22,000 kWh of energy previously bought from PG&E each year. “Oil hit a record price of $57 per barrel this week, worldwide reserves of fossil fuels continue to decline and California is woefully short of new power generating capacity,” said Barry Cinnamon, President of Akeena Solar. “Fortunately, farsighted businesses such as Cooper-Garrod Vineyards realized that they can help solve these problems by generating their own power. Wineries, like homes, are perfect for solar power. And at the current level of state solar incentives, these systems are also a terrific financial investment.” Mounted on the roof of the arena structure with secure aluminum and stainless steel hardware, Akeena expects the system to produce clean renewable power for as much as 50 years with virtually no maintenance. Total cost of the system was approximately $120,000. Offsetting this cost are four large financial incentives for businesses that install solar electric systems in California. First is a rebate from the California Energy Commission, second is a 7.5 percent state tax credit, third is a 10 percent federal tax credit, and fourth is a five year accelerated depreciation schedule that applies to the system. These incentives combined to provide an 18 percent rate of return on the system with a $73,000 Net Present Value, and a payback in fewer than 5 years. “We are a family run business and will be producing wine on these hills for many years to come,” said Bill Cooper, Production Manager and Sales Director. “Long-term sustainability with our environment was a key decision factor for us. And the fact that this environmental commitment has increased the retail interest in our wines is a terrific benefit.”
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