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Setton Pistachio to unveil Central Valley's largest solar power system

July 12, 2011

Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, the nation's second largest pistachio processor, will host a ribbon cutting ceremony, luncheon and facilities tour July 15 at 11 a.m. to formally unveil the recently completed solar power system at its processing facility, 9370 Road 234 in Terra Bella, Calif. The combined 1.7-megawatt solar power system is the largest solar power system in California's Central Valley.

The event will also include a welcoming reception and comments from local community leaders and representatives of Setton Pistachio and Cenergy Power of Merced, which designed and built the renewable energy system.

Setton's innovative solar power system will produce more than 2.6 million kilowatt hours of clean energy each year which will be harnessed to sort, roast and package an estimated 80 million pounds of pistachios annually at Setton's 300,000-square-foot processing facility. The project will offset the processing facility's energy bill by 100 percent, according to Jeff Gibbons, grower relations manager for Setton Pistachio.

"Pistachios are a green product - they are all natural when pulled from the trees and they remain natural throughout the sizing, sorting and grading process. Even the kernel is green. As a company and as a family, we are dedicated to continuing our investment in going green," Gibbons said.

The solar power system's 7,600 solar panels are literally turning Valley sunlight directly into electricity, noted Lee Cohen, general manager at Setton Pistachio.

"We are a family business and the decisions we make have to be good for customers and our growers, partners and suppliers. This project was an obvious next step in practicing what we preach about our dedication to the Valley's environment and sustainable business practices," Cohen said.

The additional statistics on Setton's renewable energy system are stunning: emissions savings equal to planting 400 acres of pine forest annually, carbon emission offsets of 1,880 metric tons every year, renewable energy credits totaling 2,618 per year, and an estimated $14 million in energy savings over 25 years.

The dual solar power system consists of a 1.220-megawatt combination carport and ground-mounted system and a 560.28-kilowatt ground-mounted system. The integrated systems were built on 7.5 acres near Setton's processing facility. Placing some of the solar panels atop a newly constructed car port has two-fold benefits - nearly 400 employee cars are kept cooler throughout the day, reducing the need to blast car air conditioners and increase emissions at the end of the workday, as well as providing an elevated location for solar panels.

The new solar energy system is just one way that Setton Pistachio has gone green. Setton also recycles the water used in pistachio processing, using it as irrigation water for orchards. The firm also turns 100 percent of the ag hull waste from nut processing into cattle feed, thus keeping 300 million pounds of waste out of Central Valley landfills.

"Treating environmental resources with care and respect is integral to the success of our business and to the sustainability of the Valley's environment," Cohen noted. "After all, we rely on natural resources to produce our product and we have long been dedicated to embracing a sustainable platform. It's our commitment to the future."

About Setton Pistachio - Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, the second largest pistachio processor in the United States, has been growing and processing pistachios in the Central Valley since 1986. Setton Pistachio has ownership in over 7,000 acres of planted pistachios and currently processes more than 80 million pounds of pistachios owned by Setton and its grower partners. Setton Pistachio provides pistachios to more than 30 foreign markets, and, through Setton International Foods Inc., distributes a variety of nuts and dried fruits to wholesalers and retailers throughout the United States.

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