Seco Tools Starts Solar PV System at Tennessee Plant

May 12, 2011
Clean energy also appears to be a smart investment for toolmaker
A 29.6 kilowatt (kW) solar PV system installed at Seco Tools manufacturing plant in eastern Tennessee will generate 37,067 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. The company received grants that cover 60% of the installation cost for the system, and it will be paid a premium for the electricity it generates for at least the 10 years.

Seco Tools started up a new, 29.6-kilowatt (kW) solar photovoltaic (PV) power system at its Lenoir City, Tenn., manufacturing plant. The 126-module installation was developed, designed and constructed by Efficient Energy of Tennessee, LLC (EETN) of Powell. Seco Tools earned energy grant funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which supplemented the total system cost.

The 126 Sharp NU-U235F1 solar modules deployed in this 29.61-kW top-of-pole mount PV system were installed with the support of the Lenoir City Utilities Board (LCUB) and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) under the TVA Generation Partners Program. It is anticipated the solar power array will generate 37,067 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of clean, emissions-free energy annually. This amount of power is equivalent to powering more than 3 average Tennessee homes annually.

Seco Tools develops and manufactures metalcutting systems for milling, turning, and holemaking, as well as toolholding equipment.

“Globally, Seco Tools has focused a great deal of attention on minimizing our impact on the environment,” said president Kurt Nordlund of Seco Tools, Inc. “The efforts undertaken at our facility in Lenoir City, Tennessee are representative of our company’s dedication to being an industry leader in terms of green production and operation.”

The idea for the installation developed after Seco Tools participated in a local free-energy seminar presented by the Loudon County Economic Development Agency in conjunction with Sam Hart, Technology and Manufacturing Consultant for the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce. Part of an economic development strategy, the seminar allowed participants to ask questions about taxes, grants, and installation and production of solar PV systems.

As a result of this presentation, Seco Tools requested a solar PV financial proposal from EETN. The resulting technical proposal included design, engineering, cost, grants, available incentives, performance, and return on investment.

Seco Tools’ combination of energy grants paid for 60% of the total system cost. The grants include the U.S. Department of Treasury Renewable Energy Grant and the Tennessee Solar Institute Installation Grant.

As a participant in the TVA Generation Partners Program, the company will be paid a premium for the electricity it generates from the solar PV system for at least the next 10 years. Seco Tools’ system is warranted to produce up to 80% of its generating capacity for the next 25 years. It should continue producing power beyond that for another 25 years or more.

The U.S. Department of Treasury Renewable Energy Grant will pay 30% of the total cost of a solar PV system, without any cap. This federal grant requires a simple application to be submitted online after the system has been completely installed and commissioned. Businesses investing in renewable energy technology may apply for the grant if they begin construction on their system before December 31, 2011.

The Tennessee Solar Institute Installation grant paid $2.00 per watt for this 29.61 kW solar PV System. This funding has been fully allocated.

The TVA Generation Partners Program is a 10-year contract between TVA, the local utility and the business owner. As an incentive to sign up for the program, TVA will credit the business $1,000 on the company’s utility bill. In the contract, TVA agrees to purchase the clean energy produced by the system for the retail rate plus an additional $0.12, effectively cutting the payback of a solar system in half.