Joseph Gallo Farms, Atwater, Calif., unveiled a new 2 megawatt (MW) solar array, what is said to be the largest privately owned system ever installed on a California dairy. The fixed-array system, provided by SolarCity, San Mateo, Calif., supplies renewable energy on-site for the family’s dairy farm.

“Sustainable farming has been a core value in our family starting with my grandfather, Joseph Gallo,” says third-generation dairy farmer and cheesemaker Peter Gallo. “We’ve envisioned integrating solar energy on the farm for as long as I can remember, and today is a step toward greater sustainability.”

By harvesting the sun’s power on 7,840 solar panels on 8 acres, the fixed-array system provides on-site renewable energy that will significantly reduce the farm’s need for electricity from the local utility and avoid an estimated 27,500 metric tons of CO2 emissions over the next 20 years. This reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is equal to planting more than 706,000 trees in the next 20 years or removing more than 292 cars from the road annually. The amount of power produced could power 282 average homes a year.

“This project aligns with the work we’ve been doing for 13 years to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and transition to green, renewable energy that is generated right here on our farm,” says Gallo.

In addition to the new solar array, Joseph Gallo Farms operates one of the largest and longest-running methane digesters in California, which captures biogas from cow manure and then uses the biogas to fuel generators to produce energy. The electricity produced by this renewable “cow power” is used on-site and significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and decreases the farm’s dependence on fossil fuels.

“Our new solar array meets about half of our energy needs for our dairy and farming operations,” Gallo says. “Partnered with our existing methane digester, we’re moving closer to becoming a net-zero energy dairy farm and cheese plant, continuing a long tradition of pioneering renewable energy deployment and sustainability practices.”

“Joseph Gallo Farms has long been a leader in sustainable dairy farming and cheesemaking, especially when it comes to producing and utilizing renewable, green energy,” says Erik Fogelberg, SolarCity’s senior vice president of commercial PV and storage solutions. “We are proud to help further expand that capability and meet their environmental goals, all while helping them save on their energy costs.”