The cooperative of organic farmers set a commitment in 2017 to reach 100% renewable power, and celebrated reaching the goal on August 1. The new facilities total 12.67 MWdc (megawatts direct current), and are a part of the Butter Solar Portfolio.
Organic Valley collaborated with OneEnergy Renewables and the Upper Midwest Municipal Energy Group for help with improving its sustainability. The Butter Solar project will provide 23,000 people in 10 Midwest communities with reduced energy costs. Butter Solar is owned and operated by BluEarth Renewables US.
Jamey Fitzgibbon, executive VP of engineering and construction at BluEarth Renewables, said, "With the construction of the entire Butter Solar Portfolio nearing completion, we are proud to partner with organizations such as Organic Valley and make these valuable solar projects a reality for the local communities.”
"As we add more renewable energy to the power grid every day, we are committed to creating a more sustainable environment for generations to come."
For the next 25 years, Organic Valley will buy renewable energy credits (RECs) from the three solar projects, which will keep electricity prices low for the local communities in the rural Midwest.
Organic Valley said the renewable power investment will have economic benefits to the communities, and also feature grazing sheep and pollinator habitats under the panels. Dr. Bronner's, the City of Madison, Lime, and Native Energy have also agreed to buy RECs from their own project or groups of projects,
Stanley Minnick, energy services and technology manager of Organic Valley, said, "It was the combined financial impact of all the REC partners that enabled the projects to be financially viable; scaling up is what made this possible."
The company has more plans in the works to “help rural American farms increase their sustainability, both financially and environmentally,” and lower their carbon footprint.
Bob Kirchoff, CEO of Organic Valley, said, "Our community solar partnership allows us to share the benefits of solar energy with our rural neighbors, advancing our mission to care for the people and farms we work with, as well as our planet.”
“Just as ours has done, community-scale solar projects can also create meaningful and good-paying jobs where they are needed most."