Natural Harvest in Virginia takes the plunge and goes solar
Two workers install 81 new solar panels to the Natural Harvest roof. The declining cost of solar and the availability of grants and tax credits made it a good time for Natural Harvest to purchase the system. Submitted photo.
By Jill Pepelnjak
Hometown Focus Staff Writer
VIRGINIA — Natural Harvest Food Co-op in Virginia went solar recently, installing a 37 kilowatt (KW) system consisting of 93 solar panels.
According to Anja Parenteau, the co-op’s general manager, the co-op’s solar system is awesome. “Our system is estimated to produce about 45,000 kilowatt-hours (kwh) per year, which is about 18 percent of our building’s yearly energy usage. It could also power four homes for a year or 140,000 miles in an electric vehicle. You get the idea.”
Eighty-one of the solar panels have been installed on the store’s roof in December. Twelve of those panels will be used for a solar awning on the southside of building. The awning panels will be installed in early 2020.
“Going solar has been on our (the board’s) wish list since we opened the new expanded store in April of 2017,” Parenteau explained. “The benefits of going solar would mean a decrease in our electrical costs and a lowering of our carbon footprint.
“So, a couple of years ago, we decided to take the plunge,” Parenteau said. “We went full force. Bids were sent out for the project and Wolf Track Energy of Duluth won the bidding process.
“To help fund the project, I applied for and Natural Harvest was awarded a Business Energy Retrofit (BER) grant in August. We also received some tax credits for the project.”
The BER grant program is funded by Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation (IRRR) and administered through a partnership with Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA) to assist business owners with energy efficient improvements to their buildings.
“We are happy about reaching our goal,” Parenteau said. “Although this major project is complete, Natural Harvest will continue to look at future technologies and efficiencies for its coolers and refrigerators.”
The declining cost of solar and the availability of grants and tax credits have made it a good time for local businesses, like Natural Harvest, to go solar. Another building that is energy efficient is the new Government Services Center in Virginia. The building has more than 300,000 solar panels on its roof.
If you’d like to learn more about going solar, feel free to contact Wolf Track Energy for a free consultation today!