The steel service center that has provided and recycled metal materials in Montrose since 1973 moved to the top of the list of solar collectors after installing a 50-kilowatt system on its roof. Combined with two smaller 6-kw systems – for a total capacity of 72 kw of solar power – the commercial business is expecting to save big.
“When we put the pencil to it, it all added up,” co-owner Garry Fulks said.
The business sits on several acres along the Uncompahgre River in the heart of Montrose. Within its many buildings, eight bailers and other metal-working machines rack up a monthly electric bill that can reach $1,200.
“This takes a load off; it just makes sense to me,” Fulks said about installing the new 50-kw system on top of one of his south-facing buildings.
According to Paul Diaz, president of Renewable Energy Specialists, who did the installation, the system will meet 113 percent of the company’s energy needs. He said Recla's Fulks decided on a larger load percentage because the company is continually adding to its energy demand.
The company had to come up with approximately $120,000 to get the solar panels installed on the 50-by-90-foot roof and was fortunate to have excess funds from last year to do the project, Fulks said.
After tax incentives and rebates, Fulks said it will become a worthwhile $40,000 investment that will pay for itself in five years through the savings.
Diaz estimates savings over the life of the system will be approximately $184,00.
The benefits of solar power became evident to Fulks eight years ago when he installed a system on his home. A residential system is usually between 3 to 5 kw; Recla Metal's system could power 10 to 15 homes, said Tom Polikalas, spokesman for Delta-Montrose Electric Association. The system also is much larger than the two 20-kw community solar arrays that DMEA installed last year.
DMEA and its wholesale power provider, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, agreed to the project and were easy to work with, Fulks said.
According to Polikalas, Tri-State must be involved in projects larger than 25 kw.
DMEA's solar customers can take advantage of net-metering, a system where solar panels or other renewable energy generators are connected to a public-utility power grid and then surplus power is transferred onto the grid. This allows DMEA members to offset the cost of power drawn from the utility, and if Recla captures more energy than it uses, its meter rolls backwards.
“What's great is that we can pump juice back to them [DMEA] during its peak hours to help out,” Fulks said. “DMEA is good enough to be the battery and I reap the rewards.”
The move to green power is in line with the Recla Metals’ business model, which recently added e-waste to its list of recycling services.
“This was the progressive thing to do,” Fulks said.