Kaylie Reicks, Co-Owner, said that as fifth-generation pork producers they have spent several years looking for ways to improve the environment and continue to be sustainable. “Efficiency is already a part of our culture,” said Kaylie Reicks. “The low maintenance of solar generation couples with improved solar technology efficiency, makes the projects a perfect fit for our operation.”
When your business has nearly 100 electric accounts it puts you in a unique position when it comes to renewable energy initiatives and energy independence. This led Reicks View Farms to reach out to local solar installers and to talk to their local electric cooperative. Mark Kipp acknowledges the knowledge of solar by Russel Novak, with Marv Smith Electric Plumbing & Heating which installed the array, was instrumental in the project.
“I was surprised to learn how much solar technology has improved in the last five years,” said Mark Kipp, Transportation and Purchasing Manager. “We learned a lot from Russel and his team. I didn’t know what to expect going into this, but from what I know now I think we’ll see even more solar energy as technology evolves.”
The farm also learned that picking a location for a solar array is challenging. “Not all locations have the electric distribution infrastructure in place to handle the generation coming online,” said Mark Kipp.
“The size and location of the solar array had to meet certain criteria for MiEnergy Cooperative. We had a size to work with and this particular location was a perfect fit at three acres.” Six sheep had also been added to the enclosed three acres for grazing. Community members can see the site at 2589 120th Street, New Hampton, IA 50659.
According to MiEnergy’s President/CEO Brian Krambeer, Reicks View Farms’ position is uncommon. “In this situation, it benefits both the member and the cooperative by building one large utility-scale system rather than several small ones,” Krambeer explained.
According to Krambeer, Dairyland Power Cooperative, MiEnergy’s wholesale power supplier, in recent years has provided more opportunities to do utility-scale sites with local distribution to increase its renewable energy generation mix. “This arrangement has allowed us to add Reicks View Farms’ system, as well as add four 9-MW solar arrays situated in specific areas of our service territory where distribution lines make for efficient delivery of power locally,” Krambeer said.
Brady Reicks, Co-Owner says as pork producers it is their duty to make sure they protect the environment and ensure sustainable practices, while continuing to support the communities they live in. In its 10 months of operation, the solar array is already reducing the farms’ carbon footprint. It has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 333 tons, which is equivalent to planting roughly 16,000 trees.
“A lot of thought was given before giving the green light on this project. We are grateful for the partnerships of Marvin Smith Electric and MiEnergy,” said Brady Reicks. “In the end, it has helped us improve the environment, create more energy independence and continue to grow our business.”