Reported by: William Seay of The St. Joe Channel.com
108 solar panels line one of the roofs at Hillyard in St. Joseph. They’re not quite turned on yet, but once they are, they’ll generate power that can immediately be consumed by the manufacturer. “[We] can’t wait to get it turned on, and can’t wait to monitor the efficiency or the power generated over a year’s period,” says Hillyard VP Mark Hampton.
Brightergy, the company that installed the panels, says the panels are a great investment for Hillyard. “It’s a good hedge against rate increases from their utility. It’s also fantastic for the environment. The 25-kilowatt facility is the equivalent of taking 10 cars off the road for thirty years,” says Susan Brown, a development VP with Brightergy.
And this is not the first environmentally conscious component of the Hillyard operation. Executives say Hillyard has embraced green products and green programs for years. “Hillyard has for decades really focused on and embraced resource management. That can come in timed efficiency or resource efficiency,” Hampton said. The panels will not be the primary energy source, but will be a supplemental source to increase efficiency. “All the production they’ll be consuming during the day when it’s production. Any of the other energy they’ll need will come from the grid like it always has,” Brown explains.
Once the panels are active, they will continuously monitor the efficiency in energy consumption they provide. If the results are positive, Hillyard will likely purchase even more of the panels. Brightergy is confident that will be the case. “I’ll think they’ll pay back the system in 5 years. And that’s equipment that will last for 30 or 40 years,” Brown said. Hillyard now waits for KCP&L to inspect their system of solar panels and give the go- ahead to turn them on. They expect that to be done within the next few weeks.