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Turkey Hill Dairy hits 100 percent renewable energy

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William Gregory, director of operations services at Turkey Hill Dairy, explains how Turkey Hill Dairy reached 100 percent renewable energy in a new partnership with Brookfield Renewable at the energy company's Safe Harbor hydroelectric plant on Friday.
William Gregory, director of operations services at Turkey Hill Dairy, explains how Turkey Hill Dairy reached 100 percent renewable energy in a new partnership with Brookfield Renewable at the energy company's Safe Harbor hydroelectric plant on Friday. - (Photo / )

Turkey Hill Dairy couldn't run an extension cord four miles down the road to the nearby Safe Harbor hydroelectric dam, but the company could still make a deal to buy 60 percent of its energy from the water-powered generator.

The Manor Township ice cream and beverage maker has agreed to buy 60 percent of its energy from two local hydroelectric plants owned by Hamilton, Bermuda-based Brookfield Renewable.

The partnership will make Turkey Hill Dairy completely reliant on renewable energy to power its production facility and warehouses in Lancaster County, which employ over 400 people. Company President John Cox said reaching the goal of 100 percent took a certain amount of opportunism.

“Our strategy was: let’s begin a renewable energy journey and figure out what we can do,” Cox said. “We suddenly saw the pathway to 100 percent and when we saw that path, we said ‘let’s go for it.’”

Starting this month, Turkey Hill will receive roughly 3 megawatts per month of renewable energy from Holtwood Hydroelectric Plant in Martic Township and Safe Harbor Hydroelectric Plant in Conestoga Township.

About 20 percent of the company’s energy has been renewable since it built two wind turbines in 2011 at the Frey Farm landfill in Manor Township under a partnership with PPL Renewable Energy and the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority.

Energy from wind turbines is less reliable than that from hydroelectric plants and Cox said structuring a deal that would make up for those variables proved difficult for both Turkey Hill Dairy and Brookfield.

“The contract flexes based on our energy from the wind turbines,” said William Gregory, director of operations services at Turkey Hill Dairy. “We might get 30 percent from wind some months and in the summer we might get 6 percent.”

The final 20 percent of Turkey Hill Dairy’s renewable power will come from a purchase of renewable energy credits. Turkey Hill will continue to draw energy from the power grid fed by both renewable and nonrenewable sources, but it will purchase credits from Calpine Energy Solutions, an electric utility company in Woodbridge, New Jersey.

For many companies, the benefits of moving to renewable energy isn’t immediately apparent, and Cox said Turkey Hill Dairy will be paying as much for electricity as it did before. Cox said the positives will come mostly from the ability to market the change to conservation-minded consumers, as well as to help protect the environments where much of its product comes from.

“Turkey Hill relies heavily on ingredients created by farms … it’s up to us to set an example for others to follow, doing what we can to create a clean and healthy environment,” Cox said.

The deal is the first of its kind for Brookfield Renewable, an international supplier of renewable energy with 169 hydropower facilities, 28 wind farms and 514 solar sites across 15 countries, according to Gene Alessandrini, regional vice president for Brookfield. Brookfield acquired Holtwood dam in 2015 and Safe Harbor in 2014.

“Brookfield is in the process of building a larger U.S. presence,” Alessandrini said. “Part of that is to get out and serve more customers than Turkey Hill. We think the template we created with them is a good place to start.”

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Ioannis Pashakis

Ioannis Pashakis

Ioannis Pashakis covers health care and Lancaster County. Email him at ipashakis@cpbj.com.

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