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Storage business goes solar
It's a lot less painful for Mike Perry to watch the electric meter go around these days for his business, AA Val-U-Stor.
He recently installed a 56 KV DC (kilovolt, direct current) photo voltaic solar system on two buildings, making it one of the 10 largest solar systems installed on a commercial property in the state.
In one week since the system went online Sept. 5, the system has generated a total of more than 1,500 kilowatts of power from the sun.
"We're using out of it right now," he said Friday during a special presentation on the system. That's not enough to totally run the business this summer, but by winter he figures he'll be generating more than he will use, with the excess going to the Arizona Public Service Co. power grid and his meter will be running backwards.
"Over a year's time," he said, "I hope my use and generation will balance out."
Even better, with an APS rebate of $140,000, federal tax credit of $120,000, state tax credit of $25,000 and the savings on his power bills, Perry figures he will have paid off the $400,000 cost of the system in 4-1/2 years - even less if APS is granted the rate increase it has applied for.
"I expect to save about $14,000 a year on energy costs," he said. "I'll be able to pass the savings on to customers."
Even better, he likes that he's using power efficiently and doing something beneficial for the Earth by drawing on a renewable, sustainable and clean source of power.
"I've always liked power," said Perry, who worked with nuclear and geothermal power both in the military and as a civilian. And he feels passionately about using power efficiently.
Solar isn't a new concept, having been developed by Albert Einstein in the 1930s, Perry said. "But if it weren't for the APS rebates and tax credits, I wouldn't have been able to do this."
This is a great time to get involved in solar, said Dan Hoskin, vice president of United Sustainable Energy, which made the system Perry installed. "God bless anyone who wants to take care of the planet and help get us off our dependence on foreign oil."
In one hour of sunshine, there is enough radiation to provide all the energy needs for everything in the world, said Ken Sobel, president and CEO of United Sustainable Energy. "If we captured all that power, it would be enormous. You will never find a more perfect power source."
And Yuma is well suited for solar power for both businesses and homes, he said. "You have lots of sunshine, high electric bills and a lot of new development."
Sobel said that Perry's solar system will eliminate 45,000 tons of CO2 a year from other power sources. Over its lifetime, that will be equal to CO2 emissions from 2,000 cars driving from Yuma to New York City and back.
He noted that Europe is way ahead of the United States in the use of solar power. Germany - "where they have about as much sun as New Jersey, certainly a whole lot less than Yuma" - has become almost energy self-sufficient in the last 10 years.
This nation's reliance on foreign oil won't be resolved overnight, Sobel said. "But when the sun is out and Mike's (electric) meter is running backwards, that means he not only is doing something for his business, he is providing energy for his neighbors and the community, reducing the use of a nonrenewable resource and reducing pollution."
Joyce Lobeck can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6853.