DenningSons Farms in Jonesville is about to go green.
The 300-cow dairy farm has partnered with Sustainable Energy Financing to cut its energy costs and usage and is one of the first dairy farms in Michigan to have solar panels installed.
“All we need is Consumer’s Energy to come and plug us in to the grid, and we will be up and running, hopefully within the next week,” said Dan Kuipers, managing director of Holland-based Sustainable Energy Financing.
Over the past three months, Sustainable Energy Financing has installed a solar panel that produces 19.2 kilowatts of power per hour on the dairy farm. This project will produce about 10 percent of the farm’s annual electricity demand.
Kyle Denning, son of farm owner Steve Denning and also a managing partner for Sustainable Energy Financing, was excited to implement this project.
“We always come up with plans for companies to use, but this is the first one we get to see go from start to finish, and my parents were willing to let us do it,” Kyle Denning said.
Steve Denning said it made sense to give it a try.
“(Kyle) said it would help cut down on energy use and try to help on our overall energy draw. It is like a fun experiment to prove that this actually does work,” Steve Denning said.
Sustainable Energy Financing was able to secure a low-interest loan from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., a grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a grant from the U.S. Department of Treasury. These were used to pay the capital costs for the equipment.
The project cost about $90,000, but Kuipers said this will be paid back through the grants and loans as well as savings in energy costs in roughly six to eight years.
The farm expects the project to last for at least 25 years. In addition to the solar panels, DenningSons Farms has taken other measures to lower electricity demands. The farm has had multiple energy audits completed and has taken steps to becoming more energy savvy.
An audit on its milking system showed that if it used colder water to cool the milk, it would have to run the system less. In turn the water can be recycled to be used on the cattle.
Sustainable Energy Financing says more farms within Michigan are looking into installing small solar power plants on their farms.
The mounting structures that made this installation possible were provided by MBCE member Patriot Solar Group.