Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. was founded by Ken Grossman in 1979 in the city of Chico, California. Around the same time, Chico Electric began working for Ken as an Electrical Contractor. Together the two companies have seen Sierra Nevada grow into what is considered the premier craft brewery in the United States. During the same period, Chico Electric’s President Norm Nielsen completed several renewable energy projects with PV integration beginning 10 years ago.
In 2007, Ken approached Norm about adding 1.3 MW DC of solar to his existing 500kW of solar and 1MW Fuel Cells. Helped by California Governor Schwarzenegger's California Solar Initiative and the availability of the Federal Investment Tax credits, this large solar addition brought the brewery’s renewable energy resources to a robust 2.8MW.
Chico Electric custom designed a system to maximize production and provide multiple arrays on different roof surfaces. Solectria Renewables 60/82/95kW inverters were used to balance array performance throughout the brewery’s varying roof tilts and orientations. Sunlink mounting systems were used to minimize membrane penetrations thus fulfilling a key customer requirement.
Mitsubishi Electric & Electronics USA provided the over 7,000 185W PV modules needed to substantially complete the project by the end of 2007 and into 2008. Mitsubishi expedited delivery as did all the mentioned suppliers and material deliveries occurred on time. Chico Electric’s Bob Madison and his team installed phase one (~1MW DC) from September to December 2007 battling the clock, winter weather conditions and a substantial stoppage caused by the most severe wind storm in decades.
The 2007 phase completed on time and work continues on the final phase of the 1.3MW installation as new buildings near completion. Ken continues to review future sustainability plans and Chico Electric has begun other solar projects for its customers in industry and agriculture.