Organic Valley has found a solution that will allow it to use 100% sustainable energy by 2019, according to New Hope Network.
They collaborated with their local utilities and developer, OneEnergy Renewables, to form a community solar partnership that New Hope calls a “model to emulate.”
OneEnergy will break ground in November on 10 solar farms in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa, benefitting a combined rural population of around 25,000 people. According to Organic Valley’s press release, one of the solar arrays will be the largest in Wisconsin, and the project as a whole will bump up solar power in Wisconsin by 33%. It will also benefit six communities within their portfolio.
Organic Valley will purchase the renewable energy credits from those farms for 25 years, and the utilities will sign power purchase agreements to buy the power during the same time frame.
Jonathan Reinbold, head of sustainability at Organic Valley, says that for the first two years they will see a “nominally” higher electricity cost, but by the third year they’ll be saving money. Not to mention, they’ve been budgeting for the extra costs for years, so that product pricing won’t be impacted.
Dr. Bronner’s is supporting the initiative. David Bronner, their cosmic engagement officer, says that while they’ve installed a solar array at their headquarters, it only covers half of their needs. They are committing to purchasing renewable energy credits from an Organic Valley/OneEnergy project that’s going to be built in Minnesota. This commitment will allow Dr. Bronner’s to meet their 100% renewable goal this year.
Reinbold says that anyone who wants to go renewable should start by understanding their needs: in other words, by tracking their electricity consumption over a year. The Sustainable Food Trade Association and Climate Collaborative initiative have resources to help, and Reinbold offered his own assistance: “We’re happy to share all of our learnings.”