Fetzer Vineyards to Host U.S. Wine Industry's Largest Solar Array

Fetzer Vineyards to Host U.S. Wine Industry's Largest Solar Array

Fetzer Vineyards has announced a collaborative effort to develop the largest solar energy vineyard project in the U.S. MMA Renewable Ventures, a specialist in innovative renewable energy project finance, and 3 Phases Energy Services, a renewable energy developer and marketer, will deliver the cost-effective solar energy solution.

The 901-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) project will be positioned on the roofs of the bottling facility and Red Wine Barrel Room at Fetzer's Hopland, Calif., winery. Generating 1.1 million kilowatt hours of clean electricity annually, the installation will supply 80% of the bottling plant's electricity needs. By replacing electricity from fossil fuels and other sources with clean energy from the sun, the Fetzer solar array will offset more than 960,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the equivalent of taking approximately 80 cars off the road for a year or planting 130 acres of trees.

"As one of the first and only wineries to purchase 100% clean power, Fetzer has a long-standing tradition of pioneering environmentally sound business practices," said Steve Dorfman, chief winery officer for Brown-Forman. "Building one of the largest solar energy arrays in the country as a green power solution is perfectly in line with Fetzer's business objectives and commitment to sustainability."

Dorfman also noted the project is tangible proof of the winery's search for meaningful ways to positively impact the potential problems associated with global warming. "I commend Fetzer for being the first major winery in the country to use 100% clean power," said Mindy S. Lubber, president of CERES, a coalition of investors and environmental groups that works with companies on sustainability issues. "This action sends a clear signal that cost-effective energy solutions are available that can benefit companies and the global environment at the same time."

The Fetzer solar energy system marks the first project to be financed through MMA Renewable Ventures’ solar fund, a vehicle for institutional investment in renewable energy projects nationwide. Deploying the proceeds through its proprietary third-party financing model, MMA Renewable Ventures works with solar energy developers such as 3 Phases Energy to offer customers predictably priced clean energy while avoiding the costs of installation and ongoing system maintenance. MMA Renewable Ventures will finance, operate, and maintain the generation facility and sell the power to Fetzer under the terms of a Solar Services Agreement (SSA) that sets the electricity costs at a fixed rate. Construction will begin in late July, with completion in October.

“We have had great success collaborating with key solar industry players to provide solar energy services to their customers, companies that do not want to be in the energy business to gain access to clean, predictable power,” said Matt Cheney, CEO of MMA Renewable Ventures. “The value proposition is so great that I believe the model we’re seeing Fetzer put into action today represents the future of solar energy deployment in the corporate community as well as the public sector where it puts previously inaccessible tax incentives into play.”