By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Hilmar Cheese plans expansion
Placeholder Image

The Hilmar Cheese Company plans to expand its Hilmar facility with a new administration building, a solar energy plant, and a biogas renewable energy recovery system, the company told the Hilmar Municipal Advisory Council on Monday.

The company is still in the early stages of planning and has yet to file an official request to make the change, representatives said Monday. The company does, however, plan to apply for a Conditional Use Permit update with the Merced County Planning Department “shortly.”

The new administration building, planned for 10 acres of a 34-acre parcel located across August Avenue from Hilmar Cheese’s processing facility, would provide administrative services for both the company’s California and Texas facilities. The approximately 53,000 square feet, two-story building would house about 100 employees, a large conference room, and a product demonstration room for visitors and customers. An additional, 53,000 square foot building is planned for a second phase.

The land, currently planted in crops, is already owned by the Hilmar Cheese Company and zoned for an agricultural administration building. The Hilmar Cheese Company says the building would act as a buffer between its processing plant and nearby residences.

The solar facility would inhabit a five acre parcel adjacent to the planned administrative building. The facility, expected to use parabolic mirrors to heat water, could generate as much as 10 percent of the Hilmar Cheese Company’s electricity load.

The Renewable Energy Recovery System would build a covered pond near the current processing facility to create biogas, which could be used to replace 2 to 3 percent of Hilmar Cheese Company’s natural gas usage. The company has used an identical system at its Dalhart, Texas facility since 2007.

The company already has an anaerobic digestor on site, which converts the non-fats in effluent to biogas. The new system could convert even fats to biogas, eliminating the current need to truck fatty waste to a Bay Area waste processor.

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.