By David Bice
At Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery, we have long been known for making healthful and delicious goat milk yogurt, kefir and artisan cheeses – but did you know we are also a mini solar power plant? We make all of our dairy in our solar-powered creamery, where the sum of all electricity needs is covered by renewable energy.
Quality and sustainability are guiding principles for Jennifer Bice, Founder and Managing Director of Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery.
So, it’s no surprise that she installed U.S. made solar panels at the Sebastopol creamery, which greatly reduce our carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels. At Jennifer’s farm, only four miles away, 100% of all energy needs are met by a solar power system, which allows excess energy to flow back into the grid. Let the sun shine in!
At The Creamery
Completed in 2010, after going through a planning and permitting process and building a new roof for structural support, our 586 kw photovoltaic system now provides 85% of our electricity needs through two acres of solar panels on the roof. The remaining 15% come from renewable energy sources including wind and geothermal. This powers all areas of our certified organic creamery, including production, warehouses and all refrigeration. In addition, the system provides electricity for two electric car charging stations, allowing community electric car owners to “fill-up with the sun”.
As one of the largest solar installations in Sonoma County, California, it is the realization of Jennifer’s long-time vision for our company that treats the environment with as much respect as it does the animals that produce milk for Redwood Hill Farm’s specialty goat milk yogurt, kefir and artisan cheeses. “We try to operate for the good of the planet, people and animals, not just for profit”, she says.
At Redwood Hill Farm is where it all began, with its nationally recognized dairy goats that provide us, along with seven other family farms, with the freshest, best-tasting milk for all we make. Set amidst a field of lavender and California poppies, the farm’s solar panels are mounted on steel poles and are automated to move slowly throughout the day, following the arc of the sun for maximum efficiency. This system provides the necessary energy for the entire dairy operation, all of the barns, pumps for the wells, and power for two homes at the farm.
At our creamery, we’re using a total of 2,548 solar panels. With this system, 810,840 pounds of CO2 will be reduced annually; equal to 110 acres of trees saved, 54 cars off the road, or 76 homes powered. The system at Redwood Hill Farm provides an average of 110% of the farm’s needs annually, with excess flowing back into the grid, providing monthly credits from our utility company, which pays back for the energy generated.
This commitment to sustainability and protecting our environment has enabled Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery to receive certification and recognition as a Sonoma County Green Business: www.sonoma-county.org/sonomagreen. We are also members of the Center For Climate Protection, and are honored to support other environmental organizations to make a difference in our Sonoma County community.
From the farm to finished products, we are “milking the sun” to sustainably produce delicious goat milk dairy for all to enjoy.