Power Cheese, Shade Goats: Dairy Farm Goes Solar

Old Windmill Dairy owners, Michael and Ed Lobaugh are committed to being a truly sustainable farm with a small carbon footprint, and have a simple reason for going solar: dairies have huge electricity demands.

Even though their producers are Nubian goats and Jersey cows, the milking machines, refrigerators, cheese vats, climate control and packaging equipment require a tremendous amount of energy and consume 51,000 kWhs annually, making electricity one of their top expenses.

Positive Energy Solar designed a 24 kW system, integrated into a shade structure for the goats that will provide 95% of the farm’s electricity for more than the next 40 years.

“The centerpiece is a large shade structure that has a dual purpose, to support the 72 SunPower solar panels on top and to provide shade for the goats underneath,” Ed Lobaugh says of the array, due to be installed by September 15.

Old Windmill Dairy owners Michael and Ed Lobaugh

Old Windmill Dairy owners Michael and Ed Lobaugh

“Positive Energy Solar’s system will save us a minimum of $7,200 a year,” says Michael Lobaugh. “Removing this expense from our overhead will make the dairy more financially stable, which would allow us to focus more on making our chèvres, goudas and bries, and less time worrying about cash flow.”

The savings will fund a comprehensive education program for farm interns.

The Lobaughs turned to crowdfunding and launched the “Power Cheese, Shade Goats” campaign to help finance the project. Friends and fans of Old Windmill Dairy can contribute to the project through the Indiegogo campaign.

To encourage potential funders, Old Windmill Dairy is offering a number of perks – t-shirts, artisan wine glasses, beer mugs, cheese club memberships and, for larger donors, a personal event at the farm. Funders can also choose to adopt a goat, which they can meet at a private picnic on the farm.

“Positive Energy Solar wants to help the dairy move forward quickly to run on clean, renewable energy and reduce operating expenses,” says Paul Heiberger of Positive Energy Solar. “New Mexico’s family-owned farms are a precious asset to New Mexico in terms of practicing sustainable methods of making food; providing fresh, healthy food and creating local jobs.”

Read about another dairy farm going solar:
Case Study: Solar Array Gives Dairy Farm A Competitive Edge