Bristol, Tenn., is home to two innovative projects including this 200-solar panel structure at Holston View Elementary School, which serves as an outdoor classroom with teaching opportunities in math and science.
Alternative power sources have come a long way since the days of tie-dye and granola.
Cars, homes, schools, farms, and big businesses have all been developed to take advantage of alternative power sources - solar and wind power the most utilized in this area. The tall, graceful windmill-like structures are wind turbines. Although there are several places in the U.S. where these structures are common sites, Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia are not among them - not enough wind. Solar power is the alternative fuel of choice for this part of the country.
In the surrounding area, one will find solar panels on a number of businesses: Berry Home Center (Abingdon, Va.), Burger King and Universal Printing (Bristol), to name a few.
Nick Safay, vice president of Operations & Development for EcoLogical Energy Systems, is quick to point out that solar panels are sometimes visible on project, sometimes not. Many see the panels on the side of buildings or on the ground. But others may be mounted on the top of flat roofs or used as drive-under structures. No matter what the configuration, these panels generate substantial energy and cost savings.
Bristol, Tennessee, is home to two innovative projects.
The first, the Bristol Landfill project, is on top of a capped landfill and is an 819-panel, 200-kWh system which generates approximately 300,000 kWh hours a year. EcoLogical Energy Systems leases the land from the City of Bristol, sells the electricity at the landfill to TVA via BTES for $0.21/kWh. The system generates approximately 300,000 kWh annually. It is providing enough electricity to power approximately 50 homes in the area - clean energy!
The second project is a solar pavilion at Holston View Elementary School. The 200-solar panel structure is used not only to provide energy, but is also an outdoor classroom with teaching opportunities in math and science. The 50-kWh system generates 68,000 kWh a year. Once the initial investment has been recouped (in approximately 10 to 15 years), EcoLogical Energy Systems will donate the system to the school, at which time the school will start seeing a reduction in its electricity bills of almost 15 percent.
Solar panels and wind turbines are not the only differences - the ways in which these new energy sources are marketed are very different from those 20 to 30 years ago. Solar for Business Lunch & Learn opportunities are offered through Chambers of Commerce. Solar for Homes presentations may be given at a cocktail party, and there are Solar Tours offered to those who want to see a system ”up close and personal.”
While schools and colleges such as Virginia Highlands Community College have solar energy systems, it is interesting to note that the U.S. Military is the largest customer of the solar industry and major businesses such as Wal Mart and Google have numerous solar projects on their stores and data centers. Businesses are often attracted to the quick return on their investment and there are incentive programs, such as the 30 percent federal tax credit and other federal, state and local utility incentives.
EcoLogical Energy Systems is located at 508 Volunteer Parkway in Bristol, Tenn. They may be reached by calling 423-573-4361 or visit www.YourEcoEnergy.com.