Solano companies expand, cut energy use, attract capital


Anheuser-Bush's round-the-clock Fairfield brewery has cut energy usage by 30 percent since 2003, aided by enhancements such as a 340-foot windmill installed last year in collaboration with San Francisco's Foundation Wind Power.

The turbine is part among the latest wave of larger, slower-spinning turbines in Solano County to take advantage of conditions favorable for electricity generation.

By buying power from turbine operators, the beverage company expects to pay off the installation in five or six years and reap returns afterward, according to Kevin Finger, brewery general manager.

The company also installed a seven-acre, 6,400-panel solar array, offsetting 3 percent of annual electricity usage.

"We had the insight to modernize this plant before the 2008 and 2009 downturn," Mr. Finger said. "Our first goal is always to reduce our overall usage."

The plant also transforms into methane the leftovers from production of about 20 brands of beer. That supplies 15 percent of the facility's natural gas needs, Mr. Finger said.Blu Homes

Investment in California- and Massachusetts-based Blu Homes doubled in March with a $25 million infusion from Netherlands-based Skagen Group and Brightpath Capital Partners.

The new funding will help the 4-year-old developer and manufacturer of prefabricated energy-efficient homes to further develop proprietary manufacturing technologies and expand its single-family and developer sales teams, according to the company.

Blu Homes has built structures in a 250,000-square-foot Vallejo factory since 2011. Model sizes range from 430 square feet studios to two-story, 1,000-plus-square-foot homes. Units are sold nationwide as primary residences, additions and schools.

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