When Clif Bar bakery general manager Dale Ducommun went to City Hall in Twin Falls, Idaho, it wasn’t because of the recent major highway closures, or taxes, or crime. “I’m here for the bees and butterflies,” Dale announced in a penetrating baritone before describing the flowering plants on his company’s new solar farm and the consensus of a working group that the City Council vote to become a Bee USA city.
Proudly wearing the label as “a different kind of company,” Clif Bar and Company sought to develop a different kind of solar farm, as well as inspire the community to action. Dale had recently accepted the new role with Clif Bar, having previously run the Malt-O-Meal factory in Northfield, Minnesota, and a nursery business in Lakeville. The new Clif Bar bakery in Twin Falls, Idaho, would be building a two-megawatt “behind the meter” solar array. Dale shared information about Minnesota’s leadership on pollinator-friendly solar with colleagues on the solar team and the decision was made.
Elysa Hammond, Clif Bar’s vice president of environmental stewardship, contacted Fresh Energy’s Rob Davis and a new collaboration was launched. Over the following weeks, Fresh Energy shared our five years of knowledge, best practices, design recommendations, and research partners. In September, Fresh Energy was proud to join the ribbon-cutting for Clif Bar’s new pollinator-friendly solar project.
Clif Bar has officially become a partner, along with Fresh Energy, in the InSPIRE research study being led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to study the impacts of pollinator habitat planted below and around ground-mounted solar. Fresh Energy and Clif Bar also collaborated to tell the story of pollinator-friendly solar at a Yale University event organized by four graduate students.
While the Clif Bar solar array is officially open, it is not quite complete. Moved by Fresh Energy’s display at the Minnesota State Fair, Clif Bar has hired design team Background Stories to create educational monument signage for the solar project. That move will make the solar site a destination for local students and others who can learn firsthand about pollinator-friendly solar.