Clif Bar Baking Company of Twin Falls has begun construction of the region’s largest onsite solar power system, which when completed next June will supply 30 percent of the 300,000-square-foot commercial bakery’s power annually from clean solar energy.

The two-megawatt system will feature five acres of ground-mounted solar panels and generate an annual output of more than 3 million kilowatt hours of electricity, the equivalent of the solar power needed to run 280 homes for a year. The system also will include onsite pollinator habitat to support local biodiversity, and carports in the bakery’s parking lot to provide shade and support electric vehicle charging stations.  The whole environmental system will be available for educational community tours.

“At Clif, we treat energy like an ingredient and are committed to using green power to run our business,” said Elysa Hammond, director of environmental stewardship for Clif Bar & Company, the bakery’s parent company. “We’re excited to tap the power of Idaho sun and build a solar array that provides both environmental benefits and serves as an educational tool for the community.”

The solar array, being constructed by Borrego Solar, is 17 times larger than the next largest onsite, “behind-the-meter” solar power system in Idaho Power’s service area, according to the utility. Idaho Power provides electricity for 550,000 people in southern Idaho and eastern Oregon. In addition to the solar system’s environmental benefits, it is projected to reduce Clif Bar Baking Company’s energy costs over the long term, said Lane Daley, the bakery’s project engineer.

The award-winning Twin Falls bakery, which has been heralded nationally for its “green” design, has prioritized overall sustainability and energy efficiency since its inception. On-demand conveyors, LED lighting, a reflective roof and water source heat pump help the bakery use about 20 percent less energy than most conventional bakeries. As the nation’s only bakery or manufacturing facility from the outset to intentionally incorporate biophilic features that connect the people inside with nature outside, the building features more than 200 windows, vaulted skylights, light-directing solatubes and huge glass sliding doors that connect an auditorium to an outdoor events space.

The addition of a solar array to the Twin Falls bakery demonstrates Clif Bar & Company’s ongoing commitment to green power. A member of RE100, Clif Bar sources green power for 100 percent of the electricity used at all its owned and operated facilities, including the company’s headquarters, satellite offices and bakeries. The green power is derived from a combination of onsite solar and renewable energy credits.

The company also extends its green power commitment to its supply chain through an innovative program called 50/50 by 2020. Under the program, Clif Bar seeks to encourage 50 supply chain partners to source 50 percent or more green power for the electricity they use on behalf of Clif Bar by 2020. To date, 44 of its supply of its supply chain partners have reached the goal.