Padnos achieves 1 million kilowatt-hours of energy production
Nearly six years ago, a West Michigan recycling company invested $1 million on a solar panel array for one of its facilities. Today, the company has surpassed 1 million kilowatt hours of energy production at that facility.
Holland-headquartered Padnos installed the solar panels at its Wyoming facility after learning about solar energy as a renewable energy option from Cascade Engineering.
Cascade Engineering was just launching its Cascade Renewable Energy business, according to Jeff Padnos, president of the company, and Cascade floated the idea for solar panels during a meeting between the two companies.
“They’d started a division to study the different renewable alternatives, principally wind and solar, to see if they could help bring those options to other companies,” Padnos said.
As a recycling company, Padnos has always been focused on being environmentally sustainable, so it made sense to consider solar energy.
Add to that favorable government incentives and a Consumers Energy program to support renewable energy, and Padnos said the decision was an obvious one.
“That combination is what got us started,” he said.
Padnos had its 150 kilowatt solar array installed in 2010 by Cascade Renewable Energy. It consists of 636 3-by-5-foot solar panels that cover 15,000 square feet of the Wyoming location.
Today, Padnos is pleased with the results the company has experienced.
“The engineers at Cascade did a very detailed study, using the records from the weather history to project how much sunlight we would get and, therefore, how much electricity would be generated,” Padnos said. “So far they have been remarkably accurate. Nearly six years into it, we are running at 102 percent of what they predicted.”
Padnos expects to see a full recovery of the initial investment cost by the 10-year mark, noting it was never a purely economic investment, although the company believes it makes good financial sense, too.
“It’s a long-term investment,” he said. “It’s one of those things that, because it fit in with our overall philosophy, it made it more attractive.”
Padnos noted solar panels have become more efficient and less expensive since his company made its initial investment.
He also said people might be surprised to learn Michigan offers great conditions for solar energy production.
“When it gets to be too warm, the panels don’t work as well,” he explained. “The panels lose efficiency when you get into the mid-70s.”
Padnos said the Wyoming facility has seen very few 1,000-kilowatt days.
“The most we ever got was 15 days out of the year where we reached 1,000 kilowatts,” he said. “We’ve never gotten one after July and we’ve started getting them as early as March.”
Padnos said hitting the 1 million kilowatt milestone is cause for the company to consider expanding its solar array.