Solar: Glennville Pecan Candy Company Expects Full Cost Recovery in 4-7 Years

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

Mascot Pecan Shelling Company has hired Coastal Solar to install a multi million dollar solar array system using ground-mounted solar panels on land adjacent to their pecan shelling and packaging plant.

For Mascot Pecan Shelling Company, the energy required to shell, cool, and freeze its pecans was increasing each year, culminating to over 2.2 million kilowatt-hours last year, with a whopping $260,000 bill as of last year.

In 2015, once owners and brothers, Kenny and Tim Tarver, saw the long term cost savings they could reap from a solar array, they jumped at the opportunity. With the help of federal solar tax incentives, Mascot Pecan will fully recover its initial multi-million dollar investment in less than seven years. If they are awarded the USDA Rural Energy for America Program grant they’ve applied for, their investment recovery time will shrink to less than four years.

“When you put all these together, it was an easy decision,” says Kenny Tarver, who took over the company with his brother Tim in 1991 when they bought the business from their parents, who founded it in 1955 as a roadside tourist shop and gas station on old Highway 301.

Mascot expects to save over $200,000 every year in energy costs. Their 1.088MW solar array is designed to produce over 70% of their energy needs, amounting to about 1.7 million kilowatt-hours per year. They can then use those savings to re-invest in their business, hire new staff to grow the local economy, or even lower their prices. The Tarvers’ are thrilled to have secured their long-term energy needs in an unpredictable time in our nation’s history.
Mascot Pecan hired Coastal Solar, a local solar installation company that specializes in agricultural solar projects, to install 3400 320-Watt solar panels on six acres of land adjacent to their pecan processing plant. The panels are fixed at 25o angles, and face directly south, the ideal orientation for solar panels to receive maximum sunlight year round. They’ll have 25 rows of panels, with each row 450 feet long.

The Tarvers decided on a ground installation rather than a roof-based one because of the size of their array. Installing that many panels on their roof invited too many complications, and since they had the nearby available land, they used it.

They utilized several federal solar tax incentives, including the Investment Tax Credit, which will provide a 30% rebate on their total costs. They also qualified for accelerated depreciation and even a bonus depreciation, which stretch out over the first five years. Combined, these incentives cover over 100% of their overall costs. If they also qualify for the REAP grant, their solar investment will be paid for within four years, leaving them free for a minimum of 20 years to enjoy big energy cost savings. Other benefits, such as saving energy resources and helping the environment, were just icing on the cake. “We’re thinking about future generations,” says Kenny Tarver.

The agriculture industry has seen an increase in solar energy installations in recent years and Mascot Pecan’s experience shows why. It’s the combination of energy conservation, cost savings, and long term energy security, along with environmental benefits. For agriculture, solar is often even easier to install than for homes because of the large buildings with flat roofs on many farms, and the available acreage for ground mounts like the Tarvers preferred.
Because of inflation, energy costs will keep rising. Therefore, the savings from Mascot Pecan’s solar array will rise as well. They’re projected to save over $267,000 per year over the first 25 years.

From its early beginnings as a roadside stand to its thriving pecan and candy business, Mascot Pecan expects to continue providing pecans well into the future. And now, they’ll be getting 70% of their energy from the sun instead of traditional sources.