Five Crowns Marketing here held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday to unveil its new solar energy system, one of the largest on-site generators in the Imperial Valley.
The company recently completed a 2.2-megawatt solar facility, incorporating roof-top and on-ground generation to offset most of its cooling facility and processing plant’s energy needs. The photovoltaic panels, at the company’s Malan Street location, will create enough power to cover between 80 and 85 percent of the facilities’ energy requirements.
Solar just made sense for the company in its long-term planning, said Joe Colace, president of Five Crowns Marketing, at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
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“This is part of our overall mindset for the future,” he said. “It’s not just about today. It’s really looking well into the future.”
That future, Colace said, includes not only keeping Five Crowns a family business, but new ideas. Agriculture and solar can co-exist, he said.
“For all of us our future — our children, our grandchildren — that is all very important, that we are visionaries in terms of the environment,” he said. “My brother and I feel it’s important that there’s a balance of resources, and thus the solar or renewable energy came into the picture. That’s really what sparked our interest from the very beginning.”
The idea first came up in May, and the facility was under construction less than half a year later, being completed Dec. 28, he said. Now it is operational, helping to offset those energy costs.
There was a lot of cooperative spirit, between the city, the financiers Rabobank and the Imperial Irrigation District, he added.
The facility has a benefit beyond the gates of the Brawley business, said IID past board President Stella Mendoza. There is both economic and social benefits by reducing carbon emissions and driving down costs for all Imperial Irrigation District business customers.
“It’s gratifying to see a locally owned and family-operated business, such as Five Crowns Marketing, adopting solar technology,” she said. “As one of the largest agriculture cooling facilities in Southern California, Five Crowns is at the forefront of agri-business, adopting innovative energy solutions.”
Other officials agreed, as the crowd of more than 50 listened to the speakers, looking toward the rows upon rows of silver and blue panels.
Bringing projects like this together, it’s a scary undertaking, said Rabobank Vice President of Renewable Energy Finance and Leasing Greg Aguilar. However, there’s both an economic and fiscal benefit from these renewable energy projects.
“We get to see the financial statements of our customers and see that electricity bills, especially for agri-businesses like this, comprise a large component of their operating cost,” he said. “Farmers and agribusinesses, you already have your other variables you have to deal with as far as weather, crop prices, food cost, gas.
“If there’s a way you can manage one of those variables, you can help your business move forward, and that’s essentially what these systems do,” he added. “It hedges against rising energy costs for the business. It helps them plan for the future, and in the long run, save money.”
Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-337-3441.