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DELANO, CA — Castle Rock Vineyards, here, hosted an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, Sept. 23, to mark the completion of what is said to be one of the larger solar electric generating system installations for an agricultural facility in the nation.

A press release from REC Solar, which built the system, quoted Castle Rock's owner, Al Good, as saying, "REC Solar and Rabobank (which financed the project) provided us with a feasible option for making a solid long-term business that’s consistent with our vision of growing high-quality food using sustainable practices. The long-term financial incentives and business benefits outweigh the initial cost of the system. This investment will help us maintain proper stewardship of the land."

Speaking to attendees prior to the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Ryan Park, director of agriculture for REC Solar, said that the ground-mounted 1.1 megawatt system covers approximately four acres and utilizes 5,400 Kyocera 210 watt modules, with no moving parts. Approximately 70 percent of the annual energy requirements of Castle Rock’s grape cooling facility will be offset by the new system.

The company’s investment will have a four-year payoff, he said. The life of the system is expected to be more than 40 years, with a guaranteed output of 80 percent of its designed rating at 25 years. The first monitoring of the system showed it producing 114 percent of its rated capacity.

The technology of solar power generation has now advanced to the point that it is “commercially viable,” he said.

Solar makes economic sense, environmental sense and strategic sense,” said Marko Krapels, vice president of commercial products for Rabobank.