CARLYLE, ILL. – As part of its sustainability strategy, The Maschhoffs LLC broke ground on a renewable energy project that will produce 3.06 megawatts of solar energy from an 11-acre field of solar panels near its Griggsville, Ill., feed mill. With the assistance of Solential Energy, the hog production company plans to have 6,800 ground-mounted, fixed-tilt solar panels installed and operating at the mill, which is its main feed facility, by October.

The project will save an estimate of $320,000 in energy costs its first year and more than $11.3 million over 25 years, The Maschhoffs said.

“Our grain operations are critical to animal care, overall health and pork production. Energy availability and resilience are critical,” said Gerry Daignault, vice president of support operations. “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. Adding solar to our energy equation allows us to continue to optimize our grain processing and get the best feed to our animals without the stress of higher energy costs.”

Jeff Haarmann, managing partner of Affordable Gas and Electric (AGE) and energy management consultant to The Maschhoffs, recommended the company use solar energy.

“The agriculture industry is turning to solar in greater numbers than ever before, some as a new revenue stream and others, like The Maschhoffs, to power their operations,” Haarmann said “The infrastructure is increasingly reliable, and in the current environment of skyrocketing energy costs, why not include solar?”

The Griggsville project satisfies The Maschhoffs’ business and sustainability goals, said Chairman Ken Maschhoff.

“In 2022 alone, we’ve seen our energy costs increase significantly severely impacting our operating costs and threatening our competitiveness as well as the State of Illinois’ $1.1 billion pork producing industry,” he said. “Adopting renewable solar energy to offset rising energy costs is strategically necessary. The Maschhoffs have always been innovators, and we embrace the opportunity to transform our operation through more sustainable practices, take control of our energy production and costs, and do our part in reducing the carbon footprint of our operations.”

Solential President Jim Shaw expects more farmers to turn to solar energy.

“In the past, there was skepticism,” he said. “As solar has become mainstream and upfront financing through government programs and private investors has become more available, adoption continues to grow. Hopefully, Griggsville is just one of many solar projects for The Maschhoffs.”