Why Choiniere Farm, a member of Organic Valley national co-op, chose to go solar – Albany Business Review – The Business Journals

As a renewable energy company, it’s no surprise that we help other businesses reduce their carbon footprint and energy usage by going solar. But, interestingly, we’re not the only industry making this kind of commitment.
Organic Valley is the nation’s largest farmer-owned organic cooperative with a footprint of more than 100 farms. Recently, the company decided to make an investment in the well-being of their farmer-members by helping them become more sustainable on multiple levels. Among other renewable energy projects, Organic Valley partnered with SunCommon to provide an innovative new solar financing program that allows farmers to go solar with zero up-front cost, while saving them money on their electric bills, and taking on zero debt.
“Organic Valley is going one step further to support its farmer-members by supporting the installation of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects,” said Nicole Rakobitsch, director of sustainability at Organic Valley. “We’re excited to help family farmers lower their energy costs and improve the bottom line of their independently-owned farms.”
One of those farms was Guy Choiniere’s family farm in Highgate, Vermont. Not only did the solar installation improve the farm’s resilience, but it also reduced its energy costs. The Choiniere family engaged SunCommon in two projects to place solar panels on existing buildings on its 500-acre property. Those projects will produce an estimated 115,500 kWh annually with a projected annual cost savings of more than $20,000. For this fourth-generation farm founded in 1945 by Choiniere’s grandparents, that’s significant.
“We’ve been with Organic Valley since 2005,” said Choiniere. “I give credit to them for offering us an opportunity to put up solar panels. We saw that it was a low-risk project for us because Organic Valley made a lot of the initial investment.” In addition, the solar installation revived an aging barn that was losing value and being considered for retirement, “Having those solar panels on the roof is exciting for us because it increases the productivity of that particular building that was losing value because it was built so long ago.”
Mike McCarthy, commercial solar project consultant at SunCommon, is working with farmers across the region to make solar an advantage to family farms like the Choinieres. “At SunCommon, we take great pride in helping businesses find the solar solutions that work for them. In this case, it was imperative that farms have no up-front costs, and that the projects would start saving them money from the first year. We have years of experience with financiers who share our values, and with their support we were able to create this program for Organic Valley farmers that helps make the farms more sustainable, environmentally and financially.”
For farms that make use of the sun in other ways, tapping it further to produce clean energy is a natural extension of what they already do. Add the cost savings and power independence of going solar, and it’s a no-brainer. To date, SunCommon has worked on solar energy projects with 75 farmers throughout New York and Vermont. And thanks to this new partnership with Organic Valley, hopefully there will be many more to come.
Want to learn more about how your business could benefit from going solar? Visit suncommon.com/commercial, or get in touch: solar@suncommon.com or 845-516-7014.
SunCommon believes that everyone has the right to a healthy environment and brighter future, and renewable energy is where it starts. With over 10,000 happy customers across New York and Vermont, SunCommon has the experience to transform your home, farm, or business using the latest and greatest in solar tech, and products that are clean, efficient, and built to last.
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