Roughly 50 people gathered at the food processing plant in Gridley Thursday, to congratulate the business on their sustainable success. "We've been working at this for a couple years, and to begin to stabilize our energy cost and get a little bit greener, that's a good thing," says Stapleton-Spence Packing Company CEO Brad Stapleton
And Stapleton says, it wasn't a difficult change to make. He says, "We've done a lot of things to reduce the energy consumption of the interior of the plant and adding the solar thermal was just a natural next step."
The Gridley based food processing company, purchased its solar panels from FAFCO, a solar water heating company from Chico, that is the oldest and largest solar thermal manufacturer in the United States.
FAFCO Founder Freemen Ford says, "We've got the equivalent of about five nuclear power plants of energy that we're producing everyday with solar."
The plant uses the hundreds of panels on the roof of the facility, to heat well-water before it hits the boilers. The company uses steam and boiling water for their food processing, everything from dehydrating and sterilizing prunes to heating juices to preservation temperatures.
Stapleton-Spence now has the largest solar water heating system ever installed in California, saving the company roughly $20,000 a year.. Qualifying them to PG&E's largest rebate in history. PG&E Spokesperson Paul Moreno says, "Here in the north state, we have the largest solar thermal rebate that has ever been awarded in California. And that really says something about the innovation and forward thinking of this company."