When Chris Krieg bought a building for his Evergreen Signs company in 2002, he wasn’t thinking about solar power. He was thinking about getting out of his home workshop and investing in a prime piece of Evergreen real estate.
Then he met Andrew Davis, owner of Tri Power Systems Inc. of Idaho Springs, at an Evergreen Chamber of Commerce mixer, and they decided to collaborate on a project to make Evergreen Signs solar-powered. Financially, it seemed to make sense on the basis that about 50 percent of cost of the system is covered by an Xcel rebate and renewable-energy and federal tax credits.
Founded two years ago, Tri Power Systems has installed several residential systems on a remote rural road at high altitude near Idaho Springs. The company owners are Andrew and Laura Davis, who live off the grid with solar electric, solar-heated water and a wind turbine.
Luckily for Krieg, the pitch of the roof of the building he already owned on Meadow Drive was about 36 degrees, or nearly perfect for photovoltaic panels, which turn sunlight into electricity.
“With all the sunlight, this is the perfect place to do it,” said Krieg, who had to trim several nearby ponderosas to get maximum exposure.
Krieg chose a 3-kilowatt system, which costs about $24,000 by industry standards and is designed to generate about 4,500 kilowatt-hours per year. (The average home uses about 7,500 kilowatt-hours per year.)
As part of its Solar Rewards program, Xcel Energy gives a rebate and a renewable-energy credit. Provided upon installation, the rebate is about $6,000 for a 3-kilowatt system. The renewable energy credit is $1.50 per watt paid monthly per megawatt of energy produced.
According to the Xcel Energy website, a 2-kilowatt PV system for a business saves about $142 per year in electricity costs.
The federal government offers a tax credit of 30 percent of the cost of the installation, or about $7,200 in this case.
If more electricity is generated than the building uses, the company gets credit for the excess on a per-kilowatt basis. The building still has to be hooked up to electricity to have power on cloudy and rainy days.
Undaunted by a prevailing windstorm, Tri Power Systems put the panels on the A-frame at 27904 Meadow Drive, across from Rib Crib, on Jan. 7.
With the installation complete, Krieg hopes to generate enough electricity to meet the building needs for now and far into the future, plus do something good for the environment.