Grown Here at Home: Dominion Energy, Carilion Clinic see success with solar grazing
(WDBJ) - Dominion Energy and Carilion Clinic are using solar grazing to maintain the land where they have solar arrays. In October of 2022, Dominion started with sheep on three sites and added two in March. The sheep belong to Pittsylvania County farmer Marcus Gray, owner of Gray’s LAMBscaping.
“Sheep are the best way to manage large tracks of land at scale and meet the vegetative need that the industry has,” Gray explained.
The sheep get to chow down, they have all the water they need, and the solar panels are good for shade.
“Adding sheep to solar farms is this innovative marriage of two environmentally friendly alternatives. On one hand, we have solar farms that are a cleaner alternative to our traditional sources of energy, and on the other hand we have sheep, which are more environmentally friendly than lawn mowers and such that burn fuel,” said Tim Eberly, spokesperson for Dominion Energy.
Dominion Energy has over 30 solar farms in Virginia, and more are being developed, which means sheep might be coming to those sites, as well.
Carilion’s solar array is in a field adjacent to Carilion New River Valley Medical Center. Pulaski farmer Cecil King provides the sheep for the land. And to make the whole thing even more special, Maggie Davison, chief operating officer for Secure Solar Futures, said, “Carilion is located on Lamb Circle, and it just made a great tie-in for having sheep on site, during most of the spring, summer, and fall months.”
Carilion says its use of solar and sheep has helped to reduce its carbon footprint and save money.
“We’re able to start this renewable green energy fund to facilitate additional carbon reduction projects at all our other sites. This has really had a snowball effect,” said Scott Blankenship, Carilion New River Valley Medical Center senior director of facility support services.
While the sheep don’t know they’re part of a business plan to save energy, they’re perfectly content handling their end of the deal.
Copyright 2023 WDBJ. All rights reserved.