Charanjit Batth established Batth Farms in 1959 on 180 acres in California’s fertile San Joaquin Valley. The fruit and nut grower, packager and distributor has since grown to around 13,000 acres and is known for its high-quality almonds and grape varietals. Today, Mr. Batth’s two sons, Gagan and Kanwar, help run the family business and work to continue the Batth family tradition.
Like most farms in central California, energy used to irrigate and pump water makes up a significant portion of their operating costs. In the fall of 2011, the Batth family decided to introduce a new crop – the sun – to reduce their reliance on grid electricity. SolarCity worked with the brothers to identify the best locations for the ground-mounted systems and initially chose five pumps that are used to irrigate grapes and almonds. After the first five systems were installed, they chose another three pumps, bringing the total project size to 1.5 MW.
Batth Farms was already on a Time of Use (TOU) rate and avoided running pumps during the day when electricity was most expensive. Now with their own solar systems generating “peak” power, Batth Farms can take advantage of net metering to earn valuable credits that significantly reduce their overall energy bill.
To maximize the savings and tax rebates for the project, SolarCity’s engineering and project management team fast-tracked the project and completed the installation before the end of the year, despite dealing with challenging weather and difficult terrain. The crew and construction teams were careful to work around crops, and in some cases placed the posts between rows of vineyard.
The Batth family was able to take advantage of the tax grant and the accelerated depreciation schedule, which speeds up the payback period. At the end of the day, Batth Farms will be saving $1.25 million for each pump—and close to $9 million total— over the projected 30-year life of the system.