Solar Power : Solar Has Printers JuicedNovember 2010 By Erik Cagle
“There were no building or any structural issues...nothing that was going to be in the way,” Goltzman says. “We looked at the (financial) incentives and decided that the time was right. It’s not a process for the faint of heart; it took eight months to install and we had to front all the money. You start getting the rebate money back after the system is installed and operational.”
The state and federal governments, along with Presswrite’s energy provider, all kicked in with grants that funded roughly 70 percent of the project. The system itself produces about 30 percent of the printer’s overall energy consumption. Goltzman projects his ROI to be about four years.
Visitors to Presswrite Printing’s Website can see, via an interface with the system, how much energy the printer is producing. Clients, not to mention prospects, have taken notice. Ditto for local businesses.
“We attracted one new customer because of it, and it’s made our current clients feel good about us using it,” Goltzman adds. “One client put it in his literature. I felt that if I attracted even one customer with the solar energy, it was well worth whatever I put into it. We’ve only been operational for five months, but it’s been extremely well-received and people are very interested in it. A business organization is coming in for a tour, and our local fire department came through to check it out. Another city’s government is coming to take a look for a pilot project on their building. To me, that’s very exciting.”
A somewhat similar experience was enjoyed by Lithographix Inc., of Hawthorne, CA. George Wolden, vice president of manufacturing, points out that his company had ample hand-holding during the seven-month process. The solar power system provider, the local energy concern (Edison) and the printer’s longtime electrician—which it has worked with frequently over the years for equipment installations and other projects—provided all the information necessary to make an informed decision at the outset, as well as throughout the process.
Here Comes the Sun
Lithographix’s solar system is fairly new, having gone live in December of 2008, and generates about 25 percent of the company’s needs (so to speak, since the power is sent back to the grid). One of the nicest aspects for the printer is the system’s hands-free operability.
“The power goes to these inverters and right back to the grid,” Wolden says. “It’s transparent to us; it just shows up on our electric bills as a credit. Honestly, I haven’t seen any issues with it.”
With California being one of the most energy-sensitive states in the union, the move to solar power was no small consideration for Lithographix. The company now saves approximately $460,000 a year on its power bill, and has increased its threshold with Edison (when a given area exceeds its threshold during peak usage times, Edison will ask its business customers to shut down).
“In California, people always ask what you’re doing about renewable resources,” Wolden adds. “Solar is really just part of it.”
But what a part it is, considering the bottom line. For the first five years, it’s a break-even proposition. The next five years, Lithographix will have some out-of-pocket expenses. After 10 years, it’s all ROI, which gives dual meaning to the phrase “going green.” PI