The Miller Family Solar Farm Project in Idaho
In October 2017 the Miller family had an interest in furthering the renewable energy objective in line with a National emphasis to do so. James and Rebecca’s children were very influential in wanting to further the renewable energy and green initiative type directions, particularly their son James, who was completing graduate work in mechanical engineering.
The Miller family was privileged to have the opportunity to undertake another project along these lines given their 900 acres of farmland in Idaho in the Twin Falls area. It seemed like the installation of a solar farm adjacent to one of their irrigation pivots would serve the purposes of supplying electrical power to the pivot and reducing the amount of electricity that would have to be supplied by Idaho Power Co for that pivot. The US Dept of Agriculture had a promotion called Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Dr. Miller wrote and submitted a grant application that proposed to install such a solar farm on company property for the amount of about $200,000. If a grant is awarded, the REAP program pays back a percentage of the cost of such a solar installation and also provides tax credits as incentives for farmers to undertake such projects. In a National USDA competition, Dr. Miller won such a grant and was given that notification in October 2018.
No such solar project of this scale had ever been undertaken in Twin Falls County, Idaho, although there were large, non-farm commercial installations in some other parts of the state. This new project gave the local Planning and Zoning Commission many challenges and resulted in numerous committee hearings and presentations before the commission agreed to grant a “Special Use” permit for the Miller Solar Project. After having granted the permit, the county P&Z members concluded that the project was a ground-breaking effort for their county that required encouragement. The Miller project would be the model for other farmers in the county to view and consider as an option for themselves.
The project was contracted to Gietzen Solar of Buhl, Idaho. It has been the Miller family policy to let contracts for farm improvements, new irrigation systems, hydroelectric installation, and this solar project to local workers and companies. The family has been pleased with the fine quality of work the local community has been able to provide.
The project was completed in September 2019, about two years after its initial conception. Some photos of the project in its final stages of completion are below. Feel free to contact Dr. Miller or any of the Miller family if you would like more details regarding the grant process, design, installation, or operation of this project.