The Gold Dust Solar Initiative
Bill Walker, Gold Dust CEO, had been talking about using solar power for years. In 2011, his vision became reality.
In January of 2011, Gold Dust embarked on the Solar Initiative with the goal to install six solar power generating stations on various facilities in the Merrill-Malin area. With the help of Obsidian Financial and the Oregon Feed-In Tariff program, in August of that year all six solar stations had been installed and hooked up to the power grid – or “green tagged” – by Pacific Power and Light.
Before the solar stations could be built, the locations had to be picked. Taking into consideration how the sun crosses through the sky in the Klamath Basin, the locations had to face south without any mountains, buildings or any obstructions getting between the panels and the sun. We also wanted to keep them from taking up precious farmland, so we looked to rooftops and buffer areas to install the solar panels. In the end, we selected rooftop installations on three potato storage cellars and three ground installations near potato cellar, an irrigation pump and a large collection of panels at the south-end of potato packing plant.
- Packing Shed Solar Station – located at the south end of the packing shed, this is the largest bank of solar panels we had installed. Total power generated is estimated to be 146,713 kilowatt hours (KWH) annually, which is 42% of the electricity used by that facility.
- Shed Cellar Solar Station – sitting directly west across the parking lot from the processing plant, solar panels were installed on the roof of this potato cellar. This station is expected to produce 13,860 KWH annually.
- McVay Cellar Solar Station – another rooftop installation, this solar power station is located about a mile south from the processing plant and estimated to produce 124,702 KWH annually, making it the second largest solar station we have.
- McVay Irrigation Pump Solar Station – the first solar station to get “green-tagged”, this solar station powers an irrigation pump. Approximately 50 acres will be irrigated with green energy from this station, which is estimated to produce 13,860 KWH every year.
- Johnson Pivot Cellar Solar Station – located on the ground near a potato cellar a few miles east of Malin on Stastny Road, this station is expected to produce 13,860 KWH annually.
- Home Cellar Solar Station – installed on the roof of a potato storage cellar just off Highway 39 outside of Merrill, this set of solar panels should produce another 13,860 KWH a year.
The total amount of green energy we expect to produce with all six solar power stations is 326,855 KWH a year. To put that into perspective, in a year our potato processing plant uses 351,240 KWH.
With those kinds of numbers, it’s easy to see how solar power is going to bring down our costs in the long run. And while finding ways to run our businesses more efficiently is important to us, it’s not the only thing we’re proud of. We’re also proud these solar stations help lessen the footprint Gold Dust and Walker Brothers have on the environment.