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Home: Friends of the Family Farm: Spotlight: SolarCity

SolarCity offers energy solutions for agricultural customers

SolarCity, established in 2006, was founded by Lyndon Rive and Peter Rive. The company is based in California with many centers throughout the United States, and is also expanding globally. It is publically traded with more than 110,000 customers. Locally, SolarCity employs 12 crews with more than 40 installers out of the Fresno operations center.

In late 2012, Senate Bill 594, which was supported by the California Farm Bureau Federation, was approved. This legislation allows farmers and ranchers to select one area on the farm to place solar, up to one megawatt in size, and use this one system to offset energy usage at all of their electric meters on adjacent or contiguous properties. Through economies of scale, the solar cost is drastically reduced, explained SolarCity Project Development Manager Andy Sinnott. “Power can be generated and credits allocated to each of the meters.”

Prior to the passage of this legislation, individuals were only allowed to build one system for one meter and “building small systems can get expensive,” said Sinnott.

SolarCity became a Fresno County Farm Bureau Friends of the Family Farm sponsor to help spread the word about the new legislation and its benefits to the agricultural economy.

Since its establishment in Fresno County, SolarCity has seen a residential boom. They’ve also done a lot of work with schools. However, they’ve had a challenge in making the farming community aware of these new laws and programs.

“Payback periods are in the six to seven year range for a system that lasts 25 years,” said Sinnott.

Presently, SolarCity has over 300 employees operating out of Fresno County.

SolarCity works to reduce operating costs, specifically on customer electric bills. Additionally, many farmers may be looking to “enhance their environmental stewardship with a sustainability program,” said Sinnott. “Clean, renewable energy is a means to accomplish that.”

SolarCity has raised more than $4 billion in structure financing, allowing customers to put no money down on a system. The company sells electricity to customers at a lower cost than they’re paying their utility.

“We look forward to helping our customers take advantage of these new programs to help reduce their operating costs,” said Sinnott.

Exclusive benefit for FCFB members

As part of their Friends of the Family Farm sponsorship, all FCFB members are being offered a free solar energy audit. The company will review utility bills, assess the site and location of all electric meters, and prepare a budget estimate with cost and savings at no obligation.

Contact Andy Sinnott at 916-983-2276 or asinnott@solarcity.com for more information.

 

Friends of the Family Farm Spotlight Profile: Ag Today, Oct. 14
By: Katie Rodgers