Citing accelerating energy costs and a desire to further sustainable farming practices, The Maschhoffs broke ground Tuesday on a new 3.06-megawatt solar array at its Griggsville Feed Mill. Dignitaries gathered at the 11-acre site of the solar field to celebrate the significant step into renewable energy by one of the nation's largest pork producers.
Solential Energy will begin construction of the Griggsville Feed Mill array immediately. The project, which encompasses 6,800 ground-mounted, fixed-tilt solar panels, will be fully installed and generating power by October 2022. The Maschhoffs anticipate first-year energy savings of $320,000 and 25-year accumulated savings of more than $11.3 million.
Chairman Ken Maschhoff said the decision to use solar energy at the mill satisfies business and sustainability goals.
"In 2022 alone, we've seen our energy costs increase significantly severely impacting our operating costs and threatening our competitiveness as well as the State of Illinois' $1.1 billion pork producing industry. Adopting renewable solar energy to offset rising energy costs is strategically necessary. The Maschhoffs have always been innovators, and we embrace the opportunity to transform our operation through more sustainable practices, take control of our energy production and costs, and do our part in reducing the carbon footprint of our operations," he said. "I would like to recognize the State of Illinois Shines Program for making funds for renewable energy projects available to job-creating businesses like The Maschhoffs."
The Griggsville Feed Mill is the main feed facility for The Maschhoffs, which processes 300,000 tons of feed that accounts for roughly 25% of the 3.4 million market hogs and feeder pigs the company raises each year. It is one of the company's most energy intensive operations, said Vice President of Support Operations Gerry Daignault.
"Our grain operations are critical to animal care, overall health and pork production. Energy availability and resilience are critical. Any interruption in power or loss of heat can alter the chemistry of our feed, which in turn impacts the growth of our animals and profitability of the business," said Daignault. "Adding solar to our energy equation allows us to continue to optimize our grain processing and get the best feed to our animals without the stress of higher energy costs."
Jeff Haarmann, managing partner of Affordable Gas and Electric (AGE) and energy management consultant to The Maschhoffs, researched other energy solutions before recommending solar energy. "The agriculture industry is turning to solar in greater numbers than ever before, some as a new revenue stream and others, like The Maschhoffs, to power their operations. The infrastructure is increasingly reliable, and in the current environment of skyrocketing energy costs, why not include solar? It will be exciting to see the Griggsville Feed Mill solar project come online and have a positive impact on energy costs," Haarmann said.
The Maschhoffs selected Indiana-based Solential Energy to design, build, and commission the solar project. Solential has more than a decade of experience in commercial solar projects, microgrids and solar storage. Solential President Jim Shaw expects more farmers to turn to solar energy to ensure economic and social sustainability of their farms.
"In the past, there was skepticism. As solar has become mainstream and upfront financing through government programs and private investors has become more available, adoption continues to grow," Shaw said. "Hopefully, Griggsville is just one of many solar projects for The Maschhoffs."
Source: The Maschhoffs, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.