Additionally, the installation is the largest of its kind undertaken by Cascade Renewable Energy, a division of Cascade Engineering. The system comprises 636 3-by-5-foot solar panels covering a 15,000 square-foot area atop Padnos’ facility.
Prior to installing the solar panels, the facility’s roof was covered with a 30,000-square-foot white rubber membrane to allow for better heat reflection, a factor in maintaining optimal system performance year round.
“It may seem a bit counterintuitive to launch a solar energy project in Michigan at a time of year when additional snowfall is still a distinct possibility,” says Fred Keller, Cascade’s chairman and CEO, “The Cascade and Padnos teams agree this project illustrates both the year-round capability of today’s solar energy solutions and the real hope that renewable energy can offer the state’s struggling economy.”
The installation is intended to achieve significant cost savings and greater energy self sufficiency for Padnos over time, Keller adds.
Through work with the utility firm Consumers Energy, the companies developed a long-range plan that taps Consumers’ Experimental Advanced Renewable Program (EARP), a recently launched solar energy pilot initiative.
During the initial phase of Padnos’ contract with Consumers Energy, the utility will pay preferred rates for the energy produced at Padnos’ facility, offsetting the facility’s energy costs. After 12 years, the power generated at the facility will be connected to Padnos’ meter, reducing the building’s usage.
“Our new installation was facilitated by a beneficial solar incentive program, but it took a highly committed group of individuals from the Cascade and Padnos teams to develop something truly innovative on this scale,” says Jeff Padnos, president of Padnos Iron & Metal.
“Padnos has long excelled as a leader in the recycling industry through our environmental and quality systems, and we were able to bring this experience to bear in making this project a reality,” Padnos adds. “For example, some of the recycled aluminum used in the system was reclaimed and processed at one of our own facilities, extending its usefulness in a new and compelling way. Creating this first-of-its-size solar installation is an exciting expansion of our expertise and environmental commitment, and a path we hope many other businesses will emulate.”
“Cascade’s collaboration with Padnos is about the kind of innovation that can take place between two companies that share a long history of trust,” adds Keller. “Our partnership goes back to the business Jeff’s father conducted with my father more than 60 years ago. Having that relationship as our foundation has played an integral part in taking this opportunity to what it is today.”