Epic fires up solar array

Friday, May 06, 2011

From an article by Jim Ferolie in The Verona Press:

They could have picked a better day for it, but on Tuesday, the new covered parking at Epic became fully functional.

Almost 1,300 solar panels over the company’s only large permanent outdoor parking area went online early that morning, supplying up to 360 kilowatts of electricity to the roughly 4,000-office campus outside Verona.

The system, supported by deep blue geodesic structures that perfectly match the much-maligned blue streetlights on Verona Avenue, has been in the works for months and is just the first big step in the company’s effort to become carbon-neutral and energy independent even as it continues to add buildings and employees.

Though the new solar panels account for only about 5 percent of the company’s current usage – and in fact, under the cloud-covered drizzle Tuesday morning it produced only about a tenth of its capacity – it’s an important training step along the way to the company’s goal of getting “off the grid” in terms of peak energy usage.

Epic facilities director Bruce Richards confirmed Tuesdaythe company’s roughly 2-acre array eventually will be dwarfed by a 15-acre solar field that will cover its more than 2,000 geothermal wells there and yet still allow the land to be farmed. It’s also looking into large-scale use of wind power and biomass to offset its almost 8-megawatt power consumption – about the same as all the homes in the city and town of Verona combined.