Maine blueberry grower goes solar


Wyman’s, a 150-year old grower of wild blueberries, has partnered with ReVision Energy and REC Solar to install more than 17,000 solar modules on 35 acres of non-productive land in Maine. Wyman’s owns 55,000 acres of land in Maine and is a top-selling brand of frozen fruit in the U.S., according to Nielsen data. 

ReVision Energy is installing the project, which will have both Hanwha Q Peak Duo 400 W and REC380 solar modules. It is expected to generate 8.5 GWh of clean energy in the first year of operation, offsetting an estimated 8 million pounds of carbon every year, or the equivalent carbon sequestration of planting 60,735 trees.

This project is designed to offset 73% of Wyman’s energy use through net energy billing credits, meaning that the Maine utility, Versant Power, will give Wyman’s credit against its electric bill for every kilowatt hour generated. REC is the investor and owner of the solar plant, which Wyman’s will have a right to purchase after 20 years.

“For 150 years, we’ve been driven by the desire to produce healthy food, provide gainful employment, and protect natural resources,” said Tony Shurman, Wyman’s president and chief executive officer.

Wild blueberries took root in Maine more than 10,000 years ago and Maine is the only state in the U.S. where wild blueberries are commercially grown in abundance. These berries grow in their natural ecosystem, so there’s no artificial breeding or genetic modifications, and the plants are connected by an underground root system called rhizomes.

Wyman’s is not the first project to bring solar power to blueberry production. Solar was part of a pilot program at the University of Maine. The 4.2 MW solar project was built on a 10-acre blueberry farm. The project was developed by BlueWave, which worked with CS Energy, the EPC partner, and Navisun, the owner operator, and University of Maine, the research partner, to study solar construction techniques as well as ways of harvesting blueberries that are grown among solar panels.

Wyman’s is also partnering with the University of Maine on a research study that is  exploring how conditions caused by climate change, such as heat, drought, erratic rainfall patterns, and early frosts, impact production.

“The decision to go solar fits squarely with our ethos to do the right thing and seek a better way. Being powered by the sun is an important opportunity to ensure Wyman’s continues to provide healthy fruit for another 150 years and beyond,” said Shurman.

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