Hearst family ranch provides solar power to Apple Park

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Apple Park1
Apple Park not only looks spectacular, it's environmentally friendly too.
Photo: Duncan Sinfield

California’s historic Hearst cattle ranch is being used as a hybrid solar farm to provide power for Apple — partly thanks to Steve Jobs.

The Hearst ranch takes up 150,000 acres, split across two properties, on the border of San Luis Obispo County in central California. The land has been used for raising cattle since 1865, but are now also being used as the home of a 2,900-acre solar farm, which is providing energy to power the Apple Park campus.

“Steve Hearst knew Steve Jobs and provided valuable support,” Benoit Allehaut, director at Capital Dynamics, told CNBC. Capital Dynamics recently acquired this solar project from First Solar.

“Apple had the choice between multiple projects but selected California Flats to supply their power demand,” Allehaut continued. “First Solar used their panels and managed the construction.”

The project is still expanding. A second phase consisting of 2.5 million solar panels will reportedly be carried out this year. “Cowboys of Jack Ranch have been outnumbered by construction workers as the 280-megawatt solar project heads into its final month,” according to a Hearst press release.

The fully operational project will reportedly generate enough clean solar energy to serve the equivalent of 100,000 average homes per year, displacing more than 109,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, based on the Pacific Gas and Electric grid.

Apple’s focus on sustainable energy continues to earn the company plaudits from organizations like Greenpeace, which last year rated Apple at 83 percent on its Clean Energy Index. That was significantly above the 8 percent scored by Oracle, the 11 percent scored by Samsung, the 17 percent scored by Amazon, the 56 percent scored by Google, and the 67 percent scored by Facebook.