Award-Winning Winery Harvests Solar Power Alongside Finest Merlot Grapes

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The Paloma Winery in St. Helena, California, has taken the next step in achieving sustainability and reduced its electric bill to nearly zero by installing an 18 kilowatt solar electrical system from Akeena Solar.

Paloma Winery, winner of the Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year award for their 2001 Merlot, just completed the installation of an 18 kilowatt solar electrical system from Akeena Solar. The Winery now harvests clean, affordable electric power right alongside their fine Merlot and Syrah grapes. More information about and pictures of this system can be found at

Energy Price Increases Threaten Viability of Family Businesses:

With high energy prices already an issue for many wineries, the rate increases coming in January could be devastating. By generating their own solar power, Paloma will be eliminating their entire electric bill while at the same time protecting the environmental integrity and natural beauty of Napa County. In doing so they are solidifying their place among the nation’s most farsighted and environmentally responsible winemakers.

“This decision was not difficult,” said Sheldon Richards, son of winemakers Jim and Barbara Richards. “First of all, I knew that energy costs were going to escalate dramatically. Second, why waste all that free sunshine?”

“The Paloma Winery project is the most recent addition to our growing list of winery customers, which includes Mount Eden Vineyards, Cooper-Garrod Vineyards, Rust Ridge, V. Sattui Winery and Kent Rasmussen Winery," said Akeena President, Barry Cinnamon. "Sustainability has become a vital focus for family owned wineries in California, and we are proud to have partnered with the Richards family on this latest solar winery project," added Cinnamon.

Electricity Rates Skyrocketing Again

“California is woefully short of new power generating capacity, and our local utility once again will be raising rates in 2006. So people who are already experiencing high utility bills will be clobbered when the new rates goes into effect in January. But there is some very good news,” said Cinnamon. “Farsighted businesses such as Paloma Winery realize that they can help solve these problems for themselves by installing a solar electric system. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is poised to release their plan for fully funding Governor Schwarzenegger's Million Solar Roofs Initiative, which would make it possible to install many more solar systems in the state."

About Paloma

Paloma Winery is a family owned and operated 15-acre estate vineyard specializing in Merlot and Syrah. It is located five miles west of St. Helena at the top of Spring Mountain. In the last half of the 19th century it was a vineyard, but was allowed to return to forest about the turn of the century. In the 1980’s, Jim and Barbara Richards purchased the property with the intent of rebuilding the vineyard. From the beginning the Richards worked diligently to be environmentally sensitive while developing a sustainable business. Careful planning, smart use of resources and step by step additions to their operation have resulted in a very successful micro-winery operation. Paloma Winery began its implementation of energy saving practices in 2000 with the design and construction of their winery building. The 3,600 square foot building is constructed of pre-insulated metal wall panels with a stucco finish and a standing seam metal roof. With excellent insulation (r-value of 30) in floors, walls and ceiling and they ensured a lower need for electricity right from the start.

Solar Electric System

Mounted on the roof of barrelhouse, the solar electric system will provide 21,100 kWh per year for 50 years with virtually no maintenance. Offsetting the initial cost of installation are three large financial incentives for businesses that install solar electric systems in California. First is a rebate of $2800 per kilowatt from the California Energy Commission, second is a 30 percent federal tax credit, and third is a five year accelerated depreciation schedule that applies to the system. These incentives combined to provide a 22.5 percent rate of return on the system with a payback in fewer than 5 years.

About Akeena Solar

Akeena Solar has grown to become the largest national residential and commercial solar electric system installer in the U.S. (based on 2004 data from the California Energy Commission). Akeena’s professional staff embodies decades of experience and provides customers with an unsurpassed combination of solar design expertise, financial analysis and quality installation. For more information, visit Akeena Solar’s web site at Akeena Solar employs four NABCEP Certified PV Installers.

With offices in Fairfield, NJ and Los Gatos, CA, Akeena installs solar electric systems in California, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

Founded in 2001, Akeena Solar’s philosophy is simple: we believe that producing clean electricity directly from the sun is the right thing to do for our environment and economy.


Akeena Solar                

Barry Cinnamon, President                



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