Solar Panels at Bloomingfoods West

Congratulations! Bloomingfoods members are now the proud owners of a rooftop photovoltaic system that collects electricity while you shop.  As of Wednesday, April 21, our new rooftop photovoltaic system at the West Store will be collecting the sun’s energy and converting it to power we can use. You can take pride in knowing that each year the system will:

• Convert 5,850 kilowatt hours of the sun’s energy into electricity
• Save at least $450 on energy bills
• Slow global warming by keeping 6.37 tons of CO2 out of the air
• Reduce local mercury emissions
• Set a local standard for environmental stewardship
• Help educate the community on the benefits of renewable energy

The rooftop equipment can produce enough energy to power two energy efficient households and is set up so that any surplus energy is fed back into the grid. We are able to collect information about how the system is performing and look forward to learning more about how the system works.

We'll document the process, below, as it unfolds over the next few days.

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Your friendly local PV specialist, Alex Jarvis

 

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In addition to procuring our own electricity, we have worked hard to make the Near West Side store more energy efficient. When we renovated our current space, we paid a lot of attention to energy efficiency. We installed energy efficient lighting, high efficiency refrigeration systems, day-lighting where it was feasible, heat reclaim systems, and energy-star certified equipment. We also support local food and producers, greatly reducing the energy used for transportation and intermediary storage.

Nevertheless, the Co-op’s average monthly electricity consumption is 54,307 kilowatt-hours costing us $3,400 per month. Keeping all our yummy food cool, lit, and in a comfortable environment takes a lot of energy, but we will continue to work to make all of our stores as energy efficient as possible.

One of our goals with this project is to educate the community about renewable energy technologies.  Soon educational displays will be in the store, as well as on our web site.  We are holding a free, 2-day, 12-hour course on PV solar arrays the last weekend in April.

We believe this is an investment in a more sustainable future. The total cost of our PV system was $32,000 and with help of a matching grant provided by the Indiana Office of Energy Development Bloomingfoods spent only $16,000 for the entire system.  A long-term financial investment for the Co-op, we anticipate the photovoltaic system will pay for itself in about 9 years, assuming a 10% energy inflation rate.  Alex Jarvis from the local company Solar Systems of Indiana helped plan, supply and install our new equipment.

A few specifics about the system - it consists of 20 photovoltaic panels, each of which is capable of producing 5,750 killowatts over the course of a year.  The system includes an inverter that converts the DC power the system collects into AC power we can use. In addition to logging information about how the system is performing, the inverter has some additional features that will make it easy to someday expand the system. One thing the system doesn’t include is batteries. Instead, it is set up so that any power we do not use will be fed into the electricity grid. The 4.4kw system is grid-tied, meaning that if we were to ever generate more electricity than we could use, we could sell it back to Duke Energy at current market rates 

We are excited about this big step forward towards becoming a more sustainable business. Once we begin collecting data we will be sharing it on our website so you can see how the system is performing and learn more about what the co-op is doing to be a more sustainable part of our community.
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"This publication was prepared with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Indiana Office of Energy Development (OED).  However, any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the DOE and OED."