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Padnos builds state’s largest solar energy project


August, 19 2012

Padnos builds state’s largest solar energy project

Read more about Solar Energy by Padnos

Backing up that statement, a display panel on the wall at the Padnos recycling center in Wyoming showed the 636 solar panels on the roof generating some 70 kilowatts even on an overcast afternoon.

As part of Consumers Energy’s Experimental Advanced Renewable Program, the power company will buy back the generated power for 12 years at a preferred rate. After that, power will be fed directly into the building’s use.

And while the current panels don’t provide enough energy to alone power the massive plant, there’s plenty more room on the roof, Padnos said. He and a panel of energy experts on hand said they fully expect technology to improve and costs to come down, in part thanks to experimental projects like the Padnos project.

Those projects are necessary for Consumers to study the engineering and technology needed to better utilize renewable and distributive power systems, explained Jon Allan, executive director of environmental policy and intergovernmental affairs for Consumers.

Meanwhile, the Padnos company’s $1.27 million investment should be paid back in eight or nine years, Padnos said. Beyond that, he said, it’s important for government and industry to push ahead.

“This company has always been very committed to the best use of all resources,” Padnos said.
The project suited the facility at 500 44th St. SW because it has a large, flat roof and is near the power grid — and because while Holland has more wind, Grand Rapids has more sunshine, Padnos noted.

“This is a great example of an organization wanting to do something good and then figuring out a way to do it,” said Fred P. Keller, chairman and CEO of Cascade Engineering and its division, Cascade Renewable Energy, which handled the installation.

Padnos said the relationship between his family business and Keller’s, dating back 60 years, gave him the confidence to move ahead quickly.

State Sen. Patricia Birkholz, R-Saugatuck Township, talked about a long, hot summer spent in negotiations to pass P.A. 295 in 2008, also known as the Clean, Renewable, and Efficient Energy Act that mandates 10 percent renewable energy and other initiatives —  including incentives that helped attract the new battery plants to Holland.

Solar Energy

Padnos pointed out that while his “conservative Republican” inclination, like Birkholz’s, is against government mandate, government can push for long-term benefits, including renewable energy.

“The market left all by itself can be short-term oriented,” he said. “Government can help bridge that gap.”

Business, legislative, energy and Public Service Commission representatives all emphasized the need to look to the long-term, to push projects like the Padnos one to develop technology and bring down cost.

Meanwhile, above them on a cloudy day, 636 panels were cranking out kilowatts.

“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,” said Keller. “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.”

Source: The