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The reasons why consumers are turning to organic dairy products are many and varied, and the protection of the environment is one of them. The people who care deeply about the environment include Sue Conley and Peggy Smith, the founders of California-based cheese boutique Cowgirl Creamery. It was their concern for ecology that led them to start investing in solar energy more than ten years ago. Now, they’re investing in an additional, modern photovoltaic system that reduces CO2 emissions by almost 80 tonnes a year.

Since 1997, professional gastronomes Sue Conley and Peggy Smith have operated a small but successful speciality cheese business in Point Reyes, a protected area on the Pacific coast of California. Over the years they have developed a number of their own fresh cheese creations, establishing an excellent reputation among connoisseurs of local organic cheese specialities.

 

Understanding organic

Consumers are motivated to switch to organic foods for a wide variety of reasons. They often mention genetic engineering, hormones, antibiotics and pesticides as reasons, while for a large number, what matters is environmental protection and, in the case of animal foodstuffs, animal welfare. The founders of Cowgirl Creamery take their responsibility towards the environment seriously as well. More than ten years ago, they installed solar panels on their building in Point Reyes, which supply around 96,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year and therefore cover half of their energy requirement.

 

Good conditions in Petaluma

Point Reyes is a beautiful recreational area on the Pacific coast.  However, its location has one small drawback: fog. As a result, the use of natural solar energy is slightly impaired. Further complications are that the roof of the Cowgirl Creamery building is not optimally positioned and the planners had a number of structural challenges to overcome. By contrast, the conditions in Petaluma to the north east are considerably better. By installing the new photovoltaic system here, it will therefore be possible to cover the full energy demand of the business and prevent almost 80 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

 

Funding from Switzerland

The Cowgirl Creamery photovoltaic system is the first sustainability project outside Switzerland to benefit from the Emmi Sustainability Fund, serving as a model for significant reductions in CO2. The financing mechanism is conceived so that the stimulus from the fund is repaid once a project passes the economic viability threshold – in this case after around three years. This means that the money can then be reinvested in new sustainability projects.

Construction of the system began at the end of July 2017.

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Our new photovoltaic system will produce around 160,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, covering our entire energy needs and facilitating our continued growth.

Maureen Cunnie, Head of Production at Cowgirl Creamery
Maureen Cunnie,

Head of Production at Cowgirl Creamery

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