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Feed mill completes solar array to power facility

Projected first year energy savings at The Maschhoffs' Griggsville, Illinois, location will be $320,000.

2 Lisa Selfie December 2020 Headshot
Jukka Niittymaa | PIXABAY
Jukka Niittymaa | PIXABAY

On Thursday, The Maschhoffs celebrated the completion of a 3.06-megawatt solar array at its Griggsville, Illinois, feed mill.

The ribbon-cutting marked the completion of a three-year journey to secure reliable, more affordable energy to power the feed mill, which plays a critical role in the multi-state pork-producing agribusiness.

“In 2019, we were facing an incredible dilemma,” said Gerry Daignault, The Maschhoffs’ vice president of support operations. “Griggsville is our main feed facility, processing 350,000 tons of grain each year to feed more than 25% of the company’s pigs each year."

Daignault noted the company's grain operations are critical to animal care, overall health and pork production.

"Energy availability and resilience are critical," he said. "Any interruption in power or loss of heat can alter the chemistry of our feed, which in turn impacts the growth of our animals and profitability of the business.

"The mill is one of the company’s most energy intensive operations, and rising energy costs were something we could not absorb and remain profitable — and that was before 2022 when energy costs really took off. We needed to do something.”

Finding the best path to affordable energy

The Maschhoffs tasked energy consultant Jeff Haarmann, managing partner of Affordable Gas and Electric (AGE), who has advised The Maschhoffs on energy matters for years, and Indiana-based Solential Energy with finding a solution.

After months of due diligence and energy modeling, renewable solar energy was deemed to be the best path forward. The determining factor came down to federal and state incentives.

One program in particular, Illinois Shines, provided financial incentives in the form of Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) that compensate solar array owners for each unit of energy produced and sold back to the state.

The Maschhoffs broke ground on the Griggsville solar array located on 11 acres adjacent to the feed mill in mid-May 2022.

Solential and mechanical subcontractor A to Z Solar completed the installation of 6,800 ground-mounted, fixed-tilt solar panels on October 21.

BK Electric and Illinois Electric Cooperative oversaw the grid connection.

Solar project offsets 56% of energy consumption

Solential Energy determined the solar project would offset about 56% of the Griggsville Mill’s energy consumption, with projected first year energy savings of $320,000.

With the Illinois Shines Program’s SREC incentives, the annual financial impact will increase to about $700,000.

With federal tax credits and depreciation, Solential anticipates the array will pay for itself in roughly five years – and have another 25 to 35 years of energy generation to power The Maschhoffs’ feed mill.

Ken Maschhoff serves as chairman for the family-owned business that spans six Midwestern states.

“The family and the leadership team reviewed AIG’s and Solential’s energy strategy carefully," said Maschhoff.

"We were pleased to see that generating our own renewable energy onsite at the Griggsville feed mill would provide the reliable, affordable energy we needed for our operations. It also supported our corporate commitment to adopting more sustainable practices such as solar energy that reflect modern agriculture and also what consumers want from companies producing the world’s food.”

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