DENVER — Ardent Mills said it has signed a 25-year energy agreement with US Solar to purchase 1.8 million kWh annually under a subscription plan supporting US Solar’s Goodhue County, Minn., solar gardens.

Ardent’s subscription plan is expected to reduce energy costs at its mill in Hastings, Minn. Although the solar gardens will not directly power the mill, Ardent said its subscription plan, and the subsequent construction of the solar gardens, will bring more solar energy onto the local electrical grid.

“These projects are in line with our commitment to sustainable energy and will further bolster the renewable energy market in Minnesota,” said Jeff Zyskowski, vice-president of supply chain at Ardent Mills and the senior leadership team sponsor regarding sustainability. “Supporting renewable energy in any capacity is a priority for Ardent Mills and critical piece of our strategic plan for growth.”

Ardent Mills joins local residents and public entities in subscribing to the US Solar gardens. Construction already has begun on the first solar garden, which is expected to be online later this year.

 “Ardent Mills’ subscription is key to US Solar’s development of the solar gardens in Goodhue county,” said Martin Mobley, chief executive officer of US Solar. “These gardens will bring more clean, local solar energy onto the electric grid.”

Established in 1853, Ardent’s mill in Hastings was the first operating mill in Minnesota as well as the first all-roller mill facility in the United States. The mill has daily wheat flour capacity of 26,500 cwts and storage capacity of 1.3 million bus, according to the 2019 Grain & Milling Annual published by Sosland Publishing Company. Ardent said the mill makes many different blends of flour that are used in a variety of finished goods, including bread, buns, pizza, tortillas, pasta, cereal bars and snack foods.

New recycling standards and electrical service upgrades are among the steps Ardent Mills has taken to reduce its environmental impact, according to a sustainability report released by the company on July 29.

In the company’s Newton, Kas., flour mill, new recycling standards resulted in 400 tons of recycled waste last year. This is equivalent to more than 1,300 cubic yards of waste diverted from the landfill and more than 6,700 trees saved, the company said.

Electrical service upgrades completed on the same mill last year resulted in a 10.19% reduction in energy waste, according to the company. Beginning next year, the Newton flour mill will receive 90% of its energy from the Soldier Creek Wind Energy Center. Ardent Mills said this new green energy program will reduce its total carbon footprint by more than 7,000 tonnes annually.

The company also is working with Kellogg Co. to support farmers in Utah, Idaho and California, and is partnering with Unilever to support farm-level sustainability efforts in eastern Colorado. Ardent Mills said it is working with ag tech firm Agrible on a pilot project for spring wheat farmers in the Snake Valley of Idaho.