Valmeyer business harnessing sun’s energy - Republic-Times | News

Valmeyer business harnessing sun’s energy

By on February 7, 2018 at 12:46 pm

Pictured, MAR Graphics owner Rick Roever points to the solar panels located on the roof of his business in Valmeyer. (Sean McGowan photo)

Two brothers hope to soon reap the cost-saving benefits after installing solar panels to power 20 percent of their Valmeyer business.

MAR Graphics owners Rick and Scott Roever now have 836 solar panels on the roof of their facility at 523 S. Meyer Avenue. The brothers did not wish to disclose the cost and it is unclear what the average business pays per watt.

“It takes up about one-third of the roof,” Rick said as he stood on his company’s tin roof on an unseasonably warm winter day last week. “We always have the option to install more.”

EFS Energy in St. Louis set up the 300-kilowatt, or 300,000-watt, system that spans 30,000 square feet. 

“We looked at this about 10 years ago. And back then it didn’t make sense because the payback was almost 20 years,” he said.

However, solar renewable energy credits have made the decision more palatable in recent years. MAR Graphics will receive SRECs when the system produces a certain amount of renewable energy.

Pictured, MAR Graphics owner Rick Roever and site supervisor Rick Erlinger examine the inverters for the company’s solar installation. The inverters convert the direct current output of the solar panels into alternating current that powers the shop. (Sean McGowan photo)

Illinois’ renewable portfolio standard makes these SRECs possible for those with solar installations because electricity providers must use some percentage of renewable energy. 

Additionally, Rick said he expects the business’ use of solar to knock about $3,000 per month off their electric bill.

“It also shades the roof a little bit, which should help on cooling costs. It gets hot in the summer,” he said.

For the business’ next tax return, 30 percent of the cost of the installation can be deducted from income taxes because of a federal solar tax credit. Scott said the move will also reduce MAR’s carbon footprint.

“After reviewing the options, this really turned out to be a wise decision for us,” said Scott. “This is a classic win-win. We can reduce our electrical bill with a six to seven year (payback) and the estimated carbon offset is equivalent to over 1,100 barrels of oil saved annually.”

The solar installation is photovoltaic in that it uses solar panels to convert sunlight directly into electricity.

A representative of EFS Energy said the company has performed no other solar installations for Monroe County businesses. Tony Wyche, a spokesperson for StraightUp Solar in St. Louis, made the same statement.

Many homeowners in Mon- roe County have chosen to go solar, including Larry and Danilee Sanders and Wesley Braswell, both of Columbia, whose homes were featured during a recent Illinois Solar Tour. A StraightUp Solar map of Monroe County shows a total of nine home installations.

Brothers Brad and Brian Edler recently installed solar panels at their farms in Valmeyer and Fults. 

In 2016, Gibault Catholic High School moved to solar energy to power its FFA green- house. David Barmann of Val- meyer featured his new home installation during a solar tour.

With the increasing popularity of solar energy in the area, the Monroe County Board of Commissioners approved a comprehensive solar power ordinance during its Monday meeting. 

Sean McGowan

Sean is a die-hard Cubs fan, despite the relentless peer pressure coming from the rest of the Republic-Times staff. He and his wife, Jacqui, have been married for two years. Originally from the west suburbs of Chicago, Sean and his wife moved down to Normal to attend Illinois State University and stayed central Illinois residents for the past four years.