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JANUARY, 2011 PRESS RELEASE - SCI-REMC /SOLAR SYSTEMS OF INDIANA
Martinsville REMC office installs solar panels
By Aleasha Sandley firstname.lastname@example.org
January 3, 2011
South Central Indiana REMC recently installed two solar panels near its Martinsville headquarters. The panels provide power to the utility’s electronic sign that sits nearby. The system was installed by Solar Systems of Indiana, Inc.
MARTINSVILLE — South Central Indiana REMC officials want to be a source of information for the electric utility’s customers who are interested in going solar.
About three weeks ago, SCI installed two photovoltaic solar panels at its Martinsville headquarters. The panels are connected to SCI’s power grid and offset the power use of its electronic sign. Any extra energy is fed back to the grid.
Creating its own solar power is not the main point of the panels, visible to motorists along Morton Avenue, SCI President and CEO Kevin Sump said. Instead, the utility hopes to show its customers how solar energy works and how much energy can be gained from the sun.
“The main reason we’re doing it is a lot of our members are interested in renewable energy sources,” Sump said. “We wanted to have something that they can see and something that would provide us with output data that we could provide to our members so not only could they see a system but they can get a better idea of what it is like, what they can expect.
“We certainly support renewable energy if it makes sense for our members.”
Sump said SCI has no stake in selling solar panels or promoting the use of that type of energy. The panels, which cost $39,260, were purchased mostly through funding from SCI parent Hoosier Energy, which pitched in $25,000. The utility also received a $10,300 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and paid the remaining cost on its own.
Recovering the costs of the panels is expected to take more than 23 years, according to an SCI press release.
“A system like this is pretty expensive,” Sump said. “An average homeowner may not be able to afford or justify it. We just wanted to install the system, have it there, and at some point our system will be auto-loading the output data onto our website. Those are the kinds of things that our members need to see.”
The two panels generate 4,500 watts of power, which is equivalent to running one water heater or about two hair dryers, according to the release. SCI’s electronic sign uses about 1,200 watts of power.
Photovoltaic technology has advanced in recent years.
“There is a lot of interest in renewable energy,” SCI Vice President of Engineering Jack Hubbard said. According to SCI, 88 percent of all electric cooperatives offer electricity generated from renewable sources. In 2008, 11 percent of electric cooperative power sales came from renewable energy, including wind, solar, hydro, refuse-derived fuel, geothermal, waste heat recovery and biomass.
Customers producing energy
SCI already has six members using solar panels to supplement their energy supply. Among the six, 13 kilowatts of grid-connected photovoltaic generation occurs, with the largest installed system creating 4.4. kilowatts and the smallest generating 0.57 kilowatts. On average, SCI buys back 3.2 kilowatt-hours from each installed kilowatt of photovoltaic generation per month.
“Of course, the units produce more electricity than we buy back,” Hubbard said. “Most of the (photovoltaic) generated electricity is consumed by the residence, reducing the amount of energy needed from SCI REMC.”
Sump said the amount of money earned by members selling back their energy to SCI was minimal.
“We’re talking a few dollars each month,” he said. “You couldn’t justify putting one in based on what you’re selling back.”
“Everyone hopes that the price of the equipment comes down,” he said. “The payback on that is many, many years out. The anticipation is that the cost of all these renewable resources will come down in the future and that’s certainly the hope.”
Members interested in connecting a solar system to the grid can contact Hubbard at SCI at 765-342-3344. The members must sign contracts and SCI must install a commercial-grade meter to register the energy produced.
Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2011