Solar energy helps business go green

Above: Fairmont Ford recently installed 160 solar panels on its roof. The business is the third in Fairmont to have a solar power system.

FAIRMONT– Fairmont Ford recently had solar panels installed on the roof of its building. The solar power system will provide a cost savings down the road and is also better for the environment as is derives clean, pure energy from the sun.

The business joins just a handful of others in the community that have solar power systems. Fairmont City Administrator Cathy Reynolds said two other businesses in the community have solar power systems and are connected to the city’s grid. She said there are also two personal systems connected to the city.

Reynolds said Fairmont Ford is the first car dealership in Fairmont to get solar panels and the first business to put them on the roof of the building.

Fairmont Ford is a fourth generation business, which Teresa (Kloeckner) Haycraft is general manger of. She and brother Paul Kloeckner said they’ve been looking at getting a solar power system for a long time. Haycraft said a few years ago she watched a webinar through National Auto Dealers Association that encouraged car dealerships to utilize their roofs for solar panels.

“It doesn’t take up any real estate and we use a lot of electricity everyday so it’s something they recommended for car dealers,” Haycraft said.=

She said they get a federal tax credit that decreases in 2023 so if they were going to do it, they might as well do it now.

Haycraft said they ordered the panels in July. Kloeckner said it took about a week to do the wiring but once the panels came in, it took about half a day to get all 160 panels on the roof.

The city came this past week and wired into the transformer box so that if more power is being generated than used, it will go back to the city.

But Haycraft doesn’t anticipate they’ll have leftover power, especially with the emergence of electric vehicles.

“All car manufacturers are getting into electric vehicles so we know we’re going to have more need for power electricity in the future,” Haycraft said.

“Our power demand is going to go up. Instead of going to the gas station to fill every car up, we’re going to have to plug in here and charge every car before it leaves,” Kloeckner said.

He said by 2025, 10 percent of Ford sales are expected to be electric vehicles. From a larger perspective, Reuters predicts electric vehicles will be about 24 percent of total global sales by 2030.

Haycraft shared some statistics they were given from Green Energy out of Springfield, Minn., regarding carbon footprint and their solar panel system.

She said that their solar panels should be good for 40 years and over that time, 3,036 tons of carbon dioxide will be eliminated from Fairmont Ford’s footprint. That’s equivalent to planting 70,739 trees or recycling 9,594 tons of waste instead of sending it to a landfill.

The benefits of solar power systems are many. Haycraft said it made sense for them as they have a large roof footprint.

She said, “It will take a handful of years to pay for, but once we do that all the power we generate we’ll be able to use so we should cut our energy bill by about 50 percent.”


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