Roberti Ranch

500-Kilowatt Solar Installation: Planning & Feasibility

Roberti Ranch is a 6,000-acre family owned and operated ranch, operating since 1923. Producing beef cattle and forage hay, the ranch incurred substantial utility bills each year running their diesel irrigation pumps. Further, the pumps were in remote locations, requiring frequent and time-consuming refueling trips.

The ranch started learning about solar as an alternative to electricity provided by the local utility company and wondered about the possibility of using solar to offset costs associated with running their irrigation pumps.

Because of the size of the ranch and the pumps, the ranch was considering installing a 500kW electrical solar system. With a sizable capital investment at stake, a feasibility study was commissioned to determine whether the investment would pay off and to support both loan and grant applications for funding.

To reach a conclusion about the project's feasibility, Morrison and Company evaluated five separate components of the project including: economic feasibility, market feasibility, technical feasibility, financial feasibility, an management feasibility.

The economic feasibility portion assessed how much electricity the solar system would replace. The 500kW project not only replaced 100% of the electricity used by the ranch’s irrigation pumps, but also 97% of the full ranch operations’ electricity costs.

Other portions of the feasibility study included an assessment of the team that would be assembled to make the project happen, including the project manager, energy system design engineer, general contractor, system installer, and project consultant. In addition, each of the primary solar project components was assessed for commercial availability and warranty, including an assessment of the vendor that would provide parts and service for ongoing maintenance.

In reviewing all areas through the feasibility study, the overall project was found to be feasible. Roberti Ranch used the feasibility study to apply for a Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant and loan guarantee. Morrison & Company wrote the grant and loan guarantee proposals, resulting in the largest REAP grant in the state of California and the largest loan guarantee in the country that year.

Roberti Ranch held a grand opening party for their 500kW electrical solar system in October 2011. Morrison & Company was excited and honored to be a part of the celebration.