Bringing power to the field

THE KASS BROTHERS —Doug and Gary — are planning a solar garden on about 10 acres of their family farmland just west of Tracy. Photo / Per Peterson

The Kass brothers are looking forward to bringing a solar garden to their family land

Doug and Gary Kass are making their parents proud and helping the environment at the same time.

The Kass brothers are in the process of starting a solar garden on their sprawling acreage just west of Tracy.

“It’s a renewable resource of energy, it helps the environment and we can continue to farm the land,” Gary said. “We’re doing something here that is benefitting society, environmentally friendly. I think our parents would be very happy with what we’re doing here.”

Many years ago, the Kass’ father, Kenny, put in a 20-acre pond on the north edge of the acreage because he was big fan of wildlife and worked hard to preserve it.

“He would probably go along with this,” Doug said of his father.

The land — 116 acres in all — originally belonged to the Kass’ parents, Kenny and Betty; it’s in Doug, Gary and sister Katherine Foley’s name. Gary said their land met the 10 criteria that Minneapolis-based solar power producer US Solar was looking for to start a solar garden.

US Solar is a retail electricity service that provides services that allow customers to purchase renewable energy credits produced by solar equipment; and allows customers to purchase renewable energy as part of a competitive retail energy market.

“We met all the criteria,” Gary said. “We got a hold of them after receiving a letter, they came out and we discussed it with them and decided it was something that we wanted to do. It’s environmental-friendly, it’s renewable power … the whole idea is that it’s another use for the land other than farming.”

The project will be known as the Kass Community Solar Garden. At its peak, the solar garden will produce about 1 megawatt of power, which can be made available to Excel customers. The Kass land is zoned agricultural, and has been farmed conventionally since the family took over the land some 50 years ago. The Kasses will continue to rent out the farmland that is not included in the 10-acre solar footprint.

“It’s a pretty minor footprint,” Gary said of the solar farm. “This is something like the fifth solar farm in the county.”

The Lyon County Board approved the project Tuesday without any objections.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.