Napa, California [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] California Vineyards have practically become their own subset of solar customers — installing expansive arrays that tap into the same rays of sunlight that ripen their nearby wine grapes. GE Energy’s solar electric power systems were recently installed by Premier Power at Shafer Vineyards in Napa, California. On a bright, sunny day the 129 kW project should provide entirely all the energy needs for the vineyard.The solar electric power system will supply power to the winery’s offices and processing facilities, as well as its large, barrel refrigeration rooms. The winery expects the project to pay for itself in energy cost savings in seven to eight years. The winery will begin its first solar powered wine production when the bottling line starts up this month. Premier Power designed the 129 kW solar electric system, which features 784 of GE Energy’s GEPV 165 solar power modules. Each solar power module generates a peak power of 165 watts. Premier Power, GE’s Northern California distributor, integrated its system into Shafer Vineyards’ landscaping and existing structures. The system consists of three sub systems: two 50 kW east/west rooftop systems, and a 29 kW combined south rooftop and a ground-mounted system. The system should produce approximately 12,900 kWh per month or approximately 155,000 kWh per year. The entire system could power roughly 20 to 30 average U.S. homes. “Premier Power selected GE Energy’s solar electric systems for the project because of the in-depth support in design and layout GE provides,” said Dean Marks, president of Premier Power. Their support involved collaboration on electrical design elements including equipment selection and site layout.” The winery is on track to receive a rebate of up to USD $490,000 from Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) through the local utility’s Self-Generation Incentive Program, which covers up to half the cost of clean, on-site electric generating systems. “For more than 20 years, Shafer Vineyards has worked diligently to develop a sustainable business. Our conversion to a total use of solar power is part of that plan,” said Doug Shafer, president of Shafer Vineyards. The Shafer Vineyards project is the most recent addition to Premier Power’s list of PV enabled wineries which includes Sierra Vista Winery, Domaine de la Terre Rouge and Madrona Vineyards.