A Lawrence, Kan. company this week began installing on the roof of BOLD LLC's office and warehouse in Hutchinson, Kan. what's billed as the state's largest privately held solar array.
The 200-kilowatt system will supply an estimated 80 percent of the electricity consumed by the 110,000 square feet of office space and warehouse in the former Peel's Beauty Supply Complex, 1125 E. Fourth Ave.
The company is making other energy-efficiency improvements in the building, including motion-activated and more efficient LED lighting, with a target of 100 percent of its power supplied by solar, said Bob Peel, president of BOLD 3PL.
The system's electrical generation will be equal to that required to supply 25 average homes, Peel said.
The array will include 768 solar panels installed on the warehouse roof, facing southwest. The dimension of the individual 260-watt panels, attached to a racking system made of recycled plastic sitting on the surface of the roof, is about 40 by 70 inches, and the panels weigh about 40 pounds each, said Mark Merena, supervisor on the project with Good Energy Solutions.
They will daisy-chain wiring from a dozen panels together in a series, which increases the voltage from the panel, and then string that wire to one of four combiner boxes, Merena said. From there, they run to converter boxes inside the building.
WINAICO, a multinational corporation headquartered in Taiwan, manufactured the monocrystalline silicone ingot collectors, which sit at about a 15-degree pitch and are not visible from the ground.
The installation started this week and they anticipate completing it by June 15, said David Thiel, office manager at Good Energy Solutions.
"Economically it made sense, and environmentally," Peel said of the $570,000 investment. "It's a better work environment, and it's a small way for us to give back to the planet."
"In our volatile Kansas weather, it was a great way to prevent power outages for our customers and prevent any down time on our 24-hour shipping guarantee," Peel said.
BOLD Office Shares leases space in the former Peel's salon supply store to small businesses, allowing tenants to share many of the operating expenses, while BOLD 3PL is a neighboring third-party warehouse and distribution center.
The solar panels are warranted to sustain being struck by a 1-inch steel ball at 100 feet, Peel noted.
"We're hoping our notorious hailstorms will not affect it," he said.
An unanticipated side benefit, said Peel, is that the panels will shield the roof from the sun, gaining a 5-degree temperature drop in the warehouse.
The installation will qualify for a 30 percent federal tax credit and also will take place before the state's net metering law changes June 30, which will lower the maximum qualifying size of a commercial system from 200 to 100 kW, Thiel said.
"Solar panel technology costs have come down significantly and utility rates are still climbing," Thiel noted. "So the outlook for solar is just getting better and better. It's becoming more and more competitive with coal and any other electrical generating source."
A 510-kW project at Fort Riley is apparently the largest array in the state, although Midwest Energy, based in Hays, has signed an agreement with Clean Energy Collective of Colorado to build a 1-megawatt "solar garden," with customers buying individual panels.
Prior to BOLD's project, the largest private array in the state was a 118 kW rooftop installation at Peeper Ranch in Lenexa.