FRESNO, Calif. – Cargill is reaping immediate benefits from a new solar-energy system installed at the company's Fresno, Calif., beef-processing plant, the company reported. Cargill partnered with Altamonte, Fla.-based TEVA Energy LLC to install the system.

(See pictures of Cargill's solar array and solar-powered water heater.)

TEVA, Cargill and the California Solar Initiative program are monitoring the system's performance in real time through remote metering and on-site monitoring equipment. The system will pre-heats water used throughout the plant for food-safety and sanitation purposes. The Fresno plant has a production capacity of approximately 124,000 tons of beef products annually and employs 975 workers.

“Energy savings were achieved almost immediately after the commissioning of the solar energy system at Fresno,” said Delshawn Brown, environmental manager at the Fresno facility. “At current energy rates, we’ll certainly meet the computer-modeled performance levels and deliver the expected benefits to Cargill, TEVA and the residents of the San Joaquin Valley.”

The system uses MaxG G1 and G2 polymer-glazed collectors. TEVA and its financier, Skyline Innovations Inc. own the solar system. The arrangement eliminated any capital investment by Cargill. Financing for the project was generated through aggregate incentives with money from the solar energy sold to Cargill at rates below the company's natural gas rates.

“The commissioning of this solar thermal system is another milestone toward truly sustainable production at our Fresno beef processing facility,” said Jon Nash, Cargill’s Fresno plant general manager. “We’re taking a comprehensive approach using several complementing technologies to achieve our sustainability goals. The TEVA solar system is an important component of that comprehensive initiative that reinforces our focus on environmental stewardship and resource conservation, while serving our customers and being a good corporate neighbor.”