Georgia Farmer Will Harris Invests in Sustainable Technology and Raises Awareness of Solar Power
White Oak Pastures Owner and Georgia Organics President Will Harris is proud to announce that Hannah Solar, an Atlanta-based solar and renewable energy firm, has installed the largest solar barn in the Southeast at his farm. The 50-kilowatt installation at White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, Ga., will save Harris 30 percent in energy costs for his entire farm. White Oak Pastures is one of only two on-farm USDA-inspected grass-fed beef plants in the country.
“Installing this solar barn simply made sense,” said Harris. “I teamed up with Hannah Solar because they shared my vision; while I am interested in the bottom line and in cutting my own energy and operating costs, I am also committed to being an environmental steward and investing in sustainable technologies.”
The solar barn is Harris’ second project with Hannah Solar; the first being a solar thermal system – the largest in Georgia at the time – which provides hot water for sanitation and equipment wash down. The solar barn includes a $323,000 photovoltaic installation consisting of 225-watt Siliken panels that will provide power to Harris’ farm and beef processing facility.
“Georgia continues to lag behind other Southeastern states in the number of solar installations and incentives available,” said Pete Marte, president of Hannah Solar. “Clients like Will Harris and White Oak Pastures will raise the profile of the benefits of solar power in our state. The long-term benefit of being able to use power generated on site has great benefits and we can provide farmers an opportunity to harvest a new crop – the sun.”
With the signing of House Bill 1069 by Governor Sonny Perdue on June 4, 2010 – a bill that provides clean energy tax credits for equipment that reduces usage of energy or water – Hannah Solar can now connect the barn to the power grid, and Harris will benefit from the on-site electric generation immediately. Between 65 to 90 percent of the total cost of the barn, once connected and in use, will come back to Harris in the first year. In addition to designing and installing the system, Hannah Solar helped Harris obtain a USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant to fund the project and completed buy-back agreements with the local EMC.