On an unusually rainy day in Sunnyside, WA, we went to visit the hardworking employees of Ellensburg Solar busy installing YCH’s new solar array. The installation of over 730 solar panels is only the first phase of our company’s onsite renewable energy generation goals, representing a huge leap forward for our corporate sustainability program.
When thinking of Washington, one usually conjures up images of cloudy, rainy days. However, in Yakima County, we experience a significant amount of sun, with high solar potential that more closely resembles Florida and areas of Texas, than Seattle (See Map). Based on average local sun and panel efficiency, our first solar array will produce 258,336 kWh annually, the same energy required to power 24 US homes for a year.
This installment is projected to generate 3% of our 2015 electricity baseline—the first phase in our ambitious solar plan to generate a total of 12% energy contribution from solar panels annually by 2020. A 12% contribution from solar might not seem like a lot, but for a company that used close to 9 million kWh in 2016, that translates into a lot of energy!
All energy generated from our panels will be fed back into the grid through our net-metering agreement with Benton Rural Electric Association (REA), a not for profit electric cooperative. This affordable renewable energy will be distributed through the grid, allowing YCH to help in reducing the carbon emissions, air pollution, and climate change potential associated with more traditional energy production methods like the use of fossil fuels.
But this solar project isn’t just about us saving money on electricity, or benefiting the environment. It’s also about establishing partnerships with local businesses, like Ellensburg Solar and Benton REA, that share our commitment to sustainability. Ellensburg Solar has been promoting and installing solar panels for commercial and residential applications for years all over Washington, including the solar array at B.T. Loftus, one of YCH's grower-owners. Benton REA sources from over 70 local solar projects, and agreed to net metering for YCH, even after they had surpassed the state mandated requirement.
By promoting clean energy generation, healthy communities and affordable utilities, YCH is proud to support and be a part of the dedicated companies and individuals working every day to ensure a more sustainable future.