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BriarPatch’s parking lot now solar
The largest carport solar power system in Nevada County is now helping energize BriarPatch Co-op Community Market in Grass Valley.
The grocery store’s shiny new 680-panel, 295 kW photovoltaic solar array spans the length of the parking lot, which now has an additional 45 spaces as a result of the project. The solar system is expected to generate approximately 55 percent of the store’s energy needs.

Jeff Gold, the architect and designer, said there were many contributors to the project.

“This landmark project was made possible by the talent and teamwork of many community members,” he said. “We hope this enhances the experience of all who shop at the co-op.”

At a “Flip the Switch to Solar” ceremony on Oct. 24, the store’s general manager talked about why the project was important to the co-op.

“This project demonstrates BriarPatch’s commitment to being a leader in environmental responsibility. Reducing our dependence on nonrenewable energy is a benefit for everyone,” GM Chris Maher said. “The fact that we did this while responding to customers’ demands for new parking spaces is a win-win all around.”

Nevada County designers and builders, including California Solar Electric Company of Grass Valley, were utilized for nearly all aspects of the project, The system uses SunPower panels and is expected to save BriarPatch at least $3 million over 25 years.

Construction, which began in mid-May, was coordinated by Tru-Line Builders of Grass Valley.

“Tru-Line was incredibly accommodating in minimizing construction impacts on BriarPatch shoppers,” Maher said. “They managed to do much of the construction work at night and in the early morning hours to avoid closing down too many spaces and to keep the lot safe for people here.”
BriarPatch has also received a grant to install electric vehicle charging stations in the parking lot.

“We’re grateful to ChargePoint and Grant Farm for their assistance with securing this grant,” Maher said.