DDO Takes Lead in Solar Energy

By Karl Klooster

If there were a poster child for the green movement in Oregon, it would be the state’s wine industry. Adding to the preponderance of evidence supporting that argument is a recent announcement by one of its highest profile members.

Domaine Drouhin Oregon has just brought a 94.5-kilowatt solar energy system online, surpassing anything previously put in place. This is saying something for an industry already widely praised for its commitment to environmental concerns and sustainability.

The ground-mounted system consists of more than 500 state-of-the-art, photovoltaic panels situated in the midst of prime, southwest-facing vineyard land just off Breyman Orchard Road in the heart of the Dundee Hills.

As the first and to date the only major French-owned wine concern to establish a vineyard and winery in Oregon, Maison Joseph Drouhin of Burgundy has shown its confidence in this area’s future as one of the world’s great wine producing regions.

This is further evidenced by their latest commitment to energy conservation, enhancing the cutting-edge, gravity-fed, winemaking facility they built in the late 1980s, which became the model for all those that have followed.

Tanner Creek Energy of Portland designed and installed the system. The company is noted for its work with northwestern Oregon wineries, including Lemelson Vineyards, Elk Cove Vineyards, Sokol Blosser Winery, Kramer Vineyards and Patricia Green Cellars.

David Millman, DDO’s managing director, said, “We chose Tanner Creek because of their excellent previous work and their efforts to have this make sense for a winery, both financially and in terms of our relationship with the land and the environment.”

Alan Hickenbottom, Tanner Creek’s founder and principal, compared the Willamette Valley to Germany, where a huge investment in solar energy has been made. Currently, over half 0the world’s solar capacity is used there.

“The Willamette Valley gets as much solar radiation as Germany’s best locations,” he said. “Solar works here. Not only that, the system has few moving parts, which means low maintenance. An installation can last 25 to 35 years before replacement is required.”

Thus far, Tanner Creek has installed nearly 500kW of solar energy systems in Oregon. When a system produces more electricity than the owner/user needs, that excess is returned to the grid. The company works with clients to help leverage such benefits. ◊

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