Potato Grower

July 2018

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Since 1972, Western Trailers has been building the highest quality, light weight potato trailers in the industry! Not only are our Spud Express Trailers the strongest, they are also the most gentle and even unloading potato trailers available on the market today! Learn more at www.westerntrailer.com or call 888.344.2539 Building the best and making it better…your way! 171408WesTra12h.indd 1 1/3/18 9:30 AM to utilize solar panels: lots of sunshine, but without the consistent, extreme heat that shortens the panels' lifespans in more southerly climes like Arizona. ("Solar panels don't produce more power with more heat," says Vierstra. "They use the light in a process similar to photosynthesis.") Agri-Stor warranties the panels for 30 years, but Vierstra says their standard lifespan in southern Idaho is around 40 years. But do Solar Farms really save money for producers? Through its financing arm— partnered with KeyCorp—Agri-Stor helps growers explore every available option for installing solar power on their individual farms. The company helps its customers capitalize on tax incentives, maxing out depreciation and grants available to solar power producers. Capital leases—where the farmer takes all the tax benefits—and operation leases—where KeyCorp takes those benefits but the customer gets the system at net present cost—are available. With the way the majority of relevant tax incentives and grants are currently structured, Vierstra says there has never been—and may never be again—a better time for growers to invest in solar power on their operations. "We put everything on the table so they can make an important decision about what they want to do and what's best for their operation," says Vierstra. "That's how we want to work." When all options are carefully considered and individualized, Vierstra says, most Solar Farms systems have a return on investment of five years or less. For a 40- year investment, that's nothing to sniff at. "I call it extreme couponing, because we try to capitalize on everything out there," says Vierstra. "If we can structure the financing correctly, our customers can be net cash-positive in Year 1 and every year through the lease. Then when they do the bubble pay and their lease payment is complete, they'll be offsetting a ton of power, and their cash revenue's going to fly." Beyond what he sees as obvious financial benefits, Vierstra believes Solar Farms offer more value that is difficult to quantify. "Once you get past all the economics of it, which is necessary in any business, you get into all the secondary benefits," he says. "A lot of organic growers like to market it because it's putting their money where their mouth is. We're talking about clean, green energy. There's a tremendous amount of PR value to it. If it's financially responsible for a grower to do this, it's a no-brainer." Ultimately, Vierstra says Agri-Stor is looking out for its growers. Without their success, there is no Agri-Stor. "Solar Farms was developed because we asked, 'What can we do to benefit growers in new ways?'" he says. "We're a company, but we're friends with a lot of these growers. After that, it just comes down to being a company whose entire job is to help potato growers and their product." To learn more about Solar Farms, visit www. solarfarms.info. In Idaho, call Jesse Vierstra at (208) 733-7000. In Washington, call Michelle Ahmann at (509) 761-2166. WWW.POTATOGROWER.COM 21

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