Good Fruit Grower

November 2015

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18 NOVEMBER 2015 GOOD FRUIT GROWER Winery owners see switch to solar power as a good investment. by Peter Mitham T en years ago, when John and Virginia Weber launched Orofino Winery in British Columbia's Similkameen Valley, the cost of solar power was prohibitive. It would take 40 years for solar to pay back the capital investment. That, said John Weber, "was difficult to justify." The couple found other ways to practice sustainabil- ity. They gained recognition for building the first winery in North America insulated with bales of straw. But they never gave up on the idea of solar. In time, economics changed. Rates for traditional power to com- mercial users rose by a third, making alternative energy sources more attractive. Solar arrays became cheaper. Governments offered grants for solar projects. The Webers took the leap, and in 2012 installed a small, 2.2 kilowatt solar array that provides all the energy required for their tasting room and office as well as a small amount for the winery and warehouse. The cost of the system was Can.$25,800 (approx- imately U.S.$25,500 at the time), offset by a grant of $16,766 through the province's LiveSmart BC Small Business Champions program. The installation reduced Orofino's reliance on power from the grid by 24.4 percent, enough to allow the Webers to expect a payback period closer to 15 years rather than 40. "This was a really successful project that produced excellent savings," Weber said. "There are also some abstract benefits that include marketing opportunities Solar power becomes affordable New Technology PHOTOS COURTESY OROFINO WINERY John and Virginia Weber expect the solar power installation at their winery will pay for itself within 15 years. 1-800-421-4001 Phone: 503-538-2131 Fax: 503-538-7616 • 1-800-421-4001 Phone: 503-538-2131 Fax: 503-538-7616 • • Aztec Fuji® cv. DT2 • Firestorm®Honeycrisp™ USPP 7,197 • Wild re™ Gala USPP applied for • Buckeye® Gala USPP 10,840 • Pink Lady® Brand cv. Cripps Pink • NEW pollenizers & more! 2017 TREES AVAILABLE Call Tree Connection today! RESERVE YOUR TREES!

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