Aug 23, 2018
Rice Fruit Co. walking on sunshine with new solar array

Rice Fruit Co., a Pennsylvania packer of fresh apples and stone fruit, recently installed a new photovoltaic solar array at their facility in Gardners, Penn.

The project was the result of a collaborative partnership with Direct Energy Solar and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Located on the roof of a controlled atmosphere storage building, the 130 kW DC solar array has 490 PV solar panels and lies next to an existing green roof.

The Rice family designed the storage building with an eye to the future. The first half of the building, constructed in 2007, employed a green roof system. The second half of the storage building followed in 2010 with a reinforced roof to facilitate the future install of a solar array system.

The opportunity to install this system came after Rice Fruit Company was awarded a grant of $140,000 by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Financing Authority and Pennsylvania Office of Economic and Community Development. With the award covering almost half of the cost of the project, Rice Fruit Company began installation in July. The panels were installed using an east to west racking system, which enabled more panels to fit on the roof space. The panels lie close to the roof, so as to not intrude on the scenic landscape of rural Adams County. The 490 panels will generate approximately 143,000 kWh of electricity annually, the equivalent of the electricity used by 14 American homes. While this is a small percentage of the total electricity that Rice Fruit Company consumes, it is an important step toward clean energy use and increased sustainability for the company.

“We are big believers in renewable, clean energy at Rice Fruit Company, and set a high standard for environmental responsibility,” said Ben Rice, President of Rice Fruit Co. “Our business is multi-generational and our goal is to ensure that the legacy we’re leaving behind is even better than where we began.

“We rely on Mother Nature for our livelihood, and we need to do our best to take care of the delicate ecosystems in our area. Cleaner energy is one of the many ways we’re doing our part.”

Photos: Rice Fruit Co.

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