|
|
|
Linn County Leader - Brookfield, MO
  • Southside Equipment Goes Solar

  • A Meadville-based business that sells solar energy systems has installed a large one on the roof of Southside Equipment. It has been installed by Gray Electric of Meadville, and is the first commercial application of a solar system in Brookfield. To our knowledge, Southside’s solar system is also the first such application in Linn County.
    • email print
  • A Meadville-based business that sells solar energy systems has installed a large one on the roof of Southside Equipment. It has been installed by Gray Electric of Meadville, and is the first commercial application of a solar system in Brookfield. To our knowledge, Southside’s solar system is also the first such application in Linn County.
    The 100 solar panels aligned in several arrays on Southside’s flat, spacious roof are the heart of a 25,000-watt system that generates 97 amps and promises to save Southside Equipment owner Chad Shiflett between $700 and $900 a month. The solar system comes at an up-front cost of $80,000, but that cost will be defrayed considerably once a 30 percent federal tax credit (Business Energy Investment Tax Credit) is applied. The Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC) offered through the U.S. Department of Energy, and scheduled to sunset at the end of the current year, is “equal to 30 percent of expenditures, with no maximum credit.” If the ITC is renewed by Congress at the end of 2014, it will be reduced from 30 percent to 10 percent at the end of 2016.
    The solar cells Shiflett has purchased are hail-resistant, and the solar panels they are arrayed upon are under warranty for 25 years.
    As each one of the crystalline silicon solar cells installed on Southside Equipment’s roof absorbs photons from the sun, those ‘elementary particles’ ionize semiconductor material on the solar panel. That process liberates electrons from their atomic bonds and forces them in a single direction to produce a flow of electric current. Essentially, the solar system receives DC current from the sun and uses solar inverters to convert it to usable AC current. Solar inverters use maximum power point tracking to get the most possible power from the solar arrays. The purpose of using maximum power point tracking is to obtain the maximum amount of power possible, given the environmental conditions.    
    In Southside’s application, which is an open system connected to the power grid, that electric current is fed into two solar inverters installed in the business’s back room. In a closed solar system, such as the one helping power Gray Electric’s van, the current produced goes directly to batteries at the same location as the solar cells. Gray Electric owner Jesse Gray explains, “In an open system like the one we’re installing at Southside Equipment, the grid is where the power is stored.” So, Southside will still receive a bill from Ameren. But at some point, when Southside’s solar system is producing more power than the local business needs, the excess will remain with the grid, and Chad will receive credits on his electric bill.
      • calendar