In a visit Tuesday to the T.S. Smith & Sons' farm in Bridgeville -- the only solar-powered Century Farm in Delaware -- U.S. Senator Chris Coons reiterated his commitment to helping small agricultural businesses integrate renewable energy into their operations. Senator Coons has introduced legislation that would extend the federal renewable-energy program that financed part of the T.S. Smith & Sons solar project.
"T.S. Smith & Sons is a pioneer in sustainable agriculture and a leader in Delaware's farming community," Senator Coons said. "I'm sure Thomas Sterling Smith would be proud of the investments his great-grandsons have made to ensure that their farm remains a profitable, sustainable, and environmentally sound business. That's why I feel so strongly about supporting the extension of the successful 1603 Treasury Grants Program to help businesses finance alternative energy resources. Without this kind of program farms like these would have much greater difficulty financing clean energy investments."
First introduced as part of the American Recovery Act of 2009, the U.S. Treasury Department's 1603 Program is used to reimburse eligible businesses for a portion of the cost of installing specified energy projects. A one-year extension of the 1603 Program is a key part of Senator Coons' Job Creation Through Innovation Act, which he introduced in April.
After meeting with representatives from Solair Energy at the University of Delaware's 2010 Agriculture Week, the Smith family decided it wanted to pursue investments in solar energy on its farm. In May 2011, the farm publicly unveiled 178 ground-mounted Solair solar panels that were manufactured at Motech Solar's plant in Newark. The solar panels produce around 43 kw of power, drastically reducing the farm's $25,000 annual electric bill.
"The fact that T.S. Smith & Sons is running on solar panels that were manufactured in Delaware is a great testament to the strength of the renewable energy sector in our state," Senator Coons said. "I look forward to continuing my work with members of Delaware's energy community to encourage more businesses powered by clean energy to set-up shop in the First State and bring good-quality jobs to our communities."
Founded in 1907 by Thomas Sterling Smith, T.S. Smith & Sons is an 800-acre farm that grows a wide variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables, selling them to retail locations and restaurants in the surrounding area. The current, fourth-generation owners are: Matt, Charlie and Tom Smith and Susan Hayes. In addition to solar power, the farm makes a conscious effort to employ technologies that conserve water and soil.