A Oregon solar project operated by Pine Gate Renewables is abuzz with a sweet collaboration involving bees and brews. 

Caldera Brewing’s newly launched ale, Let’s Bee Friends IPA, is infused with honey harvested from the utility-scale solar developer's pollinator-friendly Eagle Point project, located near Medford in Jackson County.

Flowering plants nestled underneath the 9.9 MW project's solar panels attract bees while helping conserve topsoil. Honey is harvested from 48 Old Sol Apiaries hives located at the project site, claimed to be the largest “solar apiary” in the country.

“Having a beer is a great way to discuss win-win-win solutions,” said Jim Mills, owner of Caldera Brewing, in a statement. “For this collaboration, we brought together an accomplished local beekeeper, an ecologically innovative solar developer, and a mission-driven clean energy nonprofit—the result is as delicious in the glass as it is on the landscape.”

BLOSSOMING BUSINESS

“While the upfront cost to revegetate with pollinator-friendly natives is more than the turf commonly seen on solar farms, we expect to see long-term savings over the life of the project based on reduced maintenance costs realized through the efficiencies of native species,” said Julianne Wooten, environmental manager at Pine Gate, in a statement.

At some solar farms, sheep are allowed to graze to save on maintenance costs like mowing, including at Furman University’s 743 kW solar farm in Greenville, S.C., which powers the school campus.

Charlotte, N.C.-headquartered Pine Gate has 210 MW of generation in service with an additional 200 MW due to come online by the end of the year.

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