Reid Dairy Farm LLC

Location: Jeddo, MI
Grant: $39,179
Loan Guarantee: $70,000
Technology: Solar


With the help of his brother and son, James Reid has grown the family farm from a 50-head dairy farm in 1978 into a 1,100-acre farm with 205 milking cows.

Reid’s commitment to resource conservation and sustainable farming led to an interest in using renewable energy on his farm. He ultimately chose solar technology because he saw solar panels as low maintenance — and, as a farmer, he already had plenty of equipment to maintain.

At the outset of the project, Reid’s family knew their power company offered renewable energy incentives, but Reid said discovering REAP was what really made the project possible. “It was sort of a tipping point,” he said. “We really needed that additional incentive to go forward with it.”

In 2010, the farm received a $39,179 grant, covering 25% of the project cost, as well as a $70,000 loan guarantee, to install a 19.68 kW solar panel system on the roofs of the dairy barns. Since installing the panels, the farm’s electricity bills have decreased by about 30%. They expect a return on investment in 5-6 years and for the system to protect them from escalating utility energy costs.

Reid believes clean energy projects like his are important because they protect the environment, put national energy independence within reach, and reflect positively on farmers and their communities. “[These projects] show that farmers are being innovative, that they are using the latest technology,” he said.

Reid drew a comparison between conservation farming and harnessing renewable energy.

“We are always trying to find ways to recycle things,” he said. “When farmers are cropping, we’re trying to conserve the soil and recycle the nutrients. The plant material, the organic material that we aren’t harvesting — those are left on the ground to make the soil better. Using renewable energy is sort of the same. We’re trying to reuse nutrients — to utilize the energy from the sun — to power what we need here on the farm.”