St. Louis chemical distributor Walsh & Associates, Inc. activated the largest solar array ever built in Missouri, generating power from 416 roof-top solar panels. Installed by electricians from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local One, the solar array is expected to reduce the 88,000-square-foot warehouse’s annual energy bill from $36,000 to $1,500.
“This culminates an eight-year effort to make our warehouse more energy efficient,” said Randall Lewis, Walsh director of operations. “We’ve been cutting power consumption over the years by upgrading to more energy efficient systems. Federal stimulus funding and passage of the Missouri Proposition C Clean Energy Initiative in 2008 spurred additional investment in solar panels to drastically cut our energy costs.”
Walsh estimates the solar installation will pay for itself in five years through a combination of Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) and credits from Ameren through net metering. Net metering allows entities with renewable energy systems to earn money or credit from utility companies for the energy they produce.
“During fall and other times of the year when air conditioning is not required, the panels can produce more power than our building needs,” said Lewis. “That excess is returned to the grid for Ameren to use, giving us a credit. We estimate that over the anticipated 25-year life span of the solar panels we could realize a return of investment of an additional $500,000 or even more if electrical rates increase.”