Tesla Powerpack and solar energy at work in Iowa for peak demand reduction

Tesla Powerpack and solar energy at work in Iowa for peak demand reduction

Tesla Powerpack and solar energy at work in Iowa for peak demand reduction

The Ideal Newsroom | 10.31.2019

Iowa manufacturer gains strategic advantage with state’s first peak shaving power plant featuring solar and Tesla Powerpack

FAIRFIELD, Iowa, Oct. 31, 2019 – Agri-Industrial Plastics Company, an advanced manufacturing operation specializing in industrial blow molding, inaugurated Iowa’s first solar and Tesla Powerpack project last week. Designed by Iowa-based energy firm Ideal Energy, Inc., this is the first system of its kind in the state.

Next Generation of Energy Management for Manufacturing

The cutting-edge energy facility at Agri-Industrial Plastics Company (AIP) incorporates solar and energy storage to give the company greater control, efficiency, and reliability in managing expensive electrical peaks. AIP is leading Iowa’s manufacturing industry – which includes over 6,000 businesses and represents more than 18% of the state’s GPD – with its use of advanced energy technology to control energy costs and increase sustainable business practices.

Governor Kim Reynolds gave an address at the inaugural ceremony on Thursday, October 24th, and emphasized the importance of embracing future-facing energy solutions to keep Iowa businesses competitive. “My administration recognizes energy as a key resource and an area of strategic importance to Iowa’s economy,” she said. “We want to keep energy costs low and energy jobs growing. I’m proud of the leadership role state government has played in fueling this kind of economic growth.”

AIP’s new power plant features a 517 kW roof-mounted solar array that works in tandem with a 212 kW-hour Tesla Powerwall battery energy storage system. During the day, the solar panels generate energy which charges the Powerwall and powers the company’s advanced manufacturing operations. The battery system runs on an artificially-intelligent control system to automatically discharge at times of high energy usage (or peak demand) to avoid or reduce costly demand charges. The array will save AIP an average of $42,477 per year and prevent 9,377 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere over the next 25 years – equivalent to more than 10 million pounds of coal.

Lori Schaefer-Weaton, president of Agri-Industrial Plastics Company, said the decision was motivated by high utility costs. Blow molding is energy-intensive, and the scale of the operation magnifies the company’s energy demands. “We run 27 lines 24 hours a day,” Schaefer-Weaton said. “These are huge utility bills.” Schaefer-Weaton also sees benefits beyond the bottom line. “Some of the payback will be strategic, longer term, by building excitement around working at Agri-Industrial Plastics and being part of something bigger,” she said.

Sustainability as a Strategy

Schaefer-Weaton expects the array to attract forward-thinking employees, another strategic initiative for the project. The state-of-the-art solar project will fit in at AIP’s facility, which uses robotic automation, sophisticated engineering techniques, and features a clean and modern work environment. The array will also demonstrate to its customers – many of which have green initiatives of their own – that AIP is planning for the long-term. “I would consider it a strategic investment for our future,” Schaefer-Weaton said. “We’re in it for the long haul. We’re in it for our customers, we’re in it for our employees, we’re in it for our community of Fairfield.”

Governor Reynolds also recognizes that corporate sustainability initiatives are critical to attracting top talent and millennial workers, who became the largest generation in the U.S. labor force in 2016. “Renewable energy isn’t just good business in public policy,” she said. “It’s also increasingly important to our customers and our workforce. Sixty-four percent of millennials won’t work for a company without a strong corporate sustainability commitment. More than half of our Gen Zers say they would pay extra for sustainable products. Thanks to investments by companies like Agri-Industrial Plastics and innovators like Ideal Energy, Iowa is and will continue to be a proud renewable energy leader.”

Creating an energy leadership model

A recent report from NREL identifies Iowa in the top 10 states in the nation to benefit from energy storage due to high demand charges for large electric users.

Project developer Ideal Energy recognized the potential impact of peak demand reduction in Iowa’s manufacturing industry and pursued a research grant to study it.

The grant, which was facilitated by the Fairfield Economic Development Association (FEDA) and the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA), will be used to evaluate the performance of the AIP peak shaving power plant. “I know this project will also serve as an inspiration for other businesses who are looking to innovate,” said Governor Reynolds.

A white paper about the project is available at: idealenergysolar.com/agri

CONTACT
Amy Van Beek
[email protected]
(641) 209.3288

–END–

Media

Agri-Industrial Plastics Company combines a 517 kW roof-mounted array with a 212 kW-hour Tesla Powerwall as part of a peak demand reduction strategy.
Inaugurating Iowa’s first Tesla Powerpack project with state officials. Left to right: Amy Van Beek, CMO, Ideal Energy Inc., Kim Reynolds, Governor of Iowa, Lori Schaefer-Weaton, President, Agri-Industrial Plastics, Troy Van Beek, CEO, Ideal Energy Inc., Debi Durham, Director, Iowa Economic Development Authority, Brian Sellinger, Team Leader, Iowa Energy Office, Joshua Laraby, Executive Director, Fairfield Economic Development Association.

High electrical bills?

Work with an Ideal Energy expert to discover how solar can give you a compeditive edge.

Explore in Depth

See more articles & ideas from Ideal Energy

Fairfield Businesses Honored with Awards for Energy Innovation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Two Fairfield businesses, Agri-industrial Plastics Company and Ideal Energy, were honored at the Bright Ideas Breakfast on September 26th, downtown Des Moines for demonstrating innovation in a clean energy transition.

Agri-Industrial Plastics Company (AIP) received a Business Innovation award for pioneering Iowa’s first solar project to incorporate Tesla Powerpack, a project that will reduce the company’s peak load by six percent each month, delivering significant cost savings. The 517 kW project is currently the largest rooftop solar installation in the state of Iowa. The company is using the initiative as a strategic differentiator to attract top hires by staking out a cutting-edge, sustainability-focused position. “We’re really focused on being the employer of choice in the region,” said Lori Schaefer-Weaton, President of AIP. “This solar array is like a giant billboard that says, ‘Guess what? This is not your old-school manufacturing building.’ It’s not dark, it’s not dingy, it’s not unsafe. It’s technical, it’s looking forward.” AIP is the first advanced manufacturing operation in Iowa to implement solar plus battery energy storage for peak demand management.

Ideal Energy, a Fairfield-based solar installation company, received a Business Innovation award for leadership in implementing a combination of solar and energy storage which allows large electric consumers to control costly peak demand charges. In addition to peak shaving, Ideal Energy is working to use energy storage in applications such as microgrids, adding grid capacity, emergency back-up power, load shifting, and renewable integration. The company was recently ranked in the top 20 solar and energy contractor firms in the nation by Solar Power Magazine.

A third award was given to Jenny Steffensmeier of Steffensmeier Welding & Manufacturing in Pilot Grove, who received the Partner in Policy award for her efforts to advance policy around clean energy and efficiency at the state level, as her experience in taking her business 100% solar introduced significant cost savings. The solar projects at both Agri-Industrial Plastics Company and Steffensmeier Welding and Manufacturing were designed and installed by Ideal Energy.

The event, hosted by the Iowa Environmental Council focused on clean energy opportunities for Iowa, exploring how investment and policy efforts in energy efficiency, electrification, and renewable development improves the economy and the environment.

“IEC was honored to recognize three Iowa companies leading by example – while saving money! There are many more businesses doing this great work, and many others who have yet to discover the opportunities from investment in energy efficiency, electrification, or renewable projects. Iowa is ready for 100% clean energy and IEC’s number one goal is to shrink our carbon emissions while helping Iowans flourish. The solutions are well within reach and together we can make this transition benefit everyone,” says Kerri Johannsen, Program Director at IEC.

-END-

Contact:

Amy Van Beek | Ideal Energy Inc.
[email protected] | 641-919-3540

Kristin Fischer | Agri-Industrial Plastics Company
[email protected] | 641-472-4188 x143

Above: 2019 Award Winners: Lori Schaefer-Weaton – President of Agri-Industrial Plastics, Jenny Steffensmeier – owner of Steffensmeier Welding & Manufacturing, and Amy Van Beek – co-founder of Ideal Energy

Energizing Maharishi University of Management

Energizing Maharishi University of Management

Energizing Iowa's largest solar & storage power plant

The Ideal Newsroom | 10.25.2018

Maharishi University of Management to inaugurate 1.1 megawatt solar power plant on Friday

FAIRFIELD, Iowa, December 7th, 2018 – Maharishi University of Management will inaugurate the new MUM Solar Power Plant on Friday, December 14th from 2:45 to 4:00pm. The inauguration will begin in Dalby Hall at the Argiro Student Center, 1000 North 4th Street, before moving to the site of the power plant just north of campus.

The event will feature a tour of the power plant as well as presentations by MUM President Dr. John Hagelin, Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy, Troy and Amy Van Beek of Ideal Energy, and Tom Factor. Congressman Dave Loebsack will make a special guest appearance.

The cutting edge design incorporates both active tracking and battery energy storage. This is the first system of its kind in the Midwest and among the most technologically advanced solar installations in the United States.

The solar array is rated at 1.1 megawatts – over 200 times the size of a typical residential array. The active tracking system uses motors and a predictive algorithm to move the solar panels during the day, following the sun’s path. This system generates around 15% more energy every year than a fixed tilt array of the same size.

The power plant also includes a 1.05 megawatt-hour battery energy storage system. This system will allow MUM to peak shave, which cuts expensive demand charges by reducing electricity consumption during peak usage times like summer afternoons.

The MUM Solar Power Plant will bring the University’s renewable energy share to around 43%. By combining active tracking technology with battery energy storage MUM will cut its utility costs by a projected 30%.
MUM invites everyone in the community to attend the inauguration. Transportation will be provided from campus to the power plant and back. Cookies and hot drinks will be served at the power plant site.

For more information about the power plant, visit:
idealenergysolar.com/mum

Contact:
Amy Van Beek
Ideal Energy, Inc.
(641) 209-3288

–END–

Media

High electrical bills?

Work with an Ideal Energy expert to discover how solar can give you a compeditive edge.

Explore in Depth

See more articles & ideas from Ideal Energy

French-Reneker Associates switches to solar power

French-Reneker Associates switches to solar power

Iowa engineering firm sets an example for clients with solar

The Ideal Newsroom | 10.25.2018

French-Reneker Associates switches to solar power

FAIRFIELD, Iowa, (October 2nd, 2018) – French-Reneker-Associates, a southeast Iowa civil and environmental engineering company, is installing a solar array behind its office on South Main Street in Fairfield. The 40.8 kilowatt (kW) array will provide around 80% of the building’s electricity and save the company over $9,000 per year. In addition to saving the company an estimated $200,255 over the next 25 years, the array will also prevent 841 metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere during that same period – equivalent to over two million miles of driving in a typical car.

For Steve Hausner, president of French-Reneker-Associates, slashing the company’s high utility costs was a priority. “When I took over as president four years ago I learned about some of the costs of running this business. I was quite surprised to see that our average electric bill was just over $1000 a month,” he said. “I thought, ‘That’s six or eight times more than I pay for my house, which is only 3 times smaller. What’s the deal here?’ So there was room for improvement on that electric bill.”

The company considered solar several years ago, but did not pursue it at the time. “We like to go with technologies that are tried and true, both in our designs and how we run our business. At that time solar was still relatively new in this area and we weren’t ready to jump on that just yet,” Hausner said.

In the years since, the price of solar has dropped and the technology has proven itself throughout the Midwest. Now, French-Reneker-Associates’ engineering staff is confident that solar is a sound decision. “It appears to me we could pay for this in three years, and after that we’re paying 20% of that $1000 monthly bill. That’s a pretty quick payoff,” Hausner said.

We could pay for this in three years, and after that we’re paying 20% of that $1000 monthly bill. That’s a pretty quick payoff.

–Steve Hausner, President, French-Reneker Associates

According to Ideal Energy, which designed and built the array, French-Reneker-Associates’ investment in clean energy has among the fastest payback periods seen so far in solar projects in the area. Aurelien Windenberger, finance and design expert at Ideal Energy, attributed the fast payback period to the falling cost of solar and the high price French-Reneker-Associates pays for electricity.

“French-Reneker is on a high-priced commercial utility tariff, but at 40 kW, the array was large enough to generate economies of scale,” Windenberger said. In addition, the company’s electric usage and utility rates are highest in summer, when solar production is also highest. A good location for a ground-mounted array with very little shade rounded out the factors that made the solar array an excellent investment.

French-Reneker-Associates also upgraded its lighting to LEDs. By switching to more efficient lighting before building the solar array the company was able to increase its savings and install only as much solar as it needed.

“Our solar system is sized with the LED lights,” Hausner said. Ideal Energy performed an energy audit and installed the lighting. “It made it very easy for us,” Hausner explained. “We didn’t have to deal with different contractors.”

The LED lighting has already saved money compared to this time last year. “The conversion from fluorescent to LED lighting represented about a 20% decrease in our electric usage right there,” Hausner said. “I was impressed to see that.”

French-Reneker-Associates, which primarily works with municipalities on projects ranging from roads to sanitary sewage to trail systems like the Fairfield Loop Trail, said that the solar project dovetails with the values of its customers. Fairfield and Bloomfield, two of the company’s larger customers, have significant solar projects of their own. “The solar array identifies that we have similar goals,” Hausner said.

For Hausner and his colleagues the most important consideration was the value they saw in their solar investment. “We’re engineers, we can figure the numbers out,” he said. “The numbers proved themselves.”

High electrical bills?

Work with an Ideal Energy expert to discover how solar can give you a compeditive edge.

Explore in Depth

See more articles & ideas from Ideal Energy

Ideal Energy receives a $200,000 state grant for solar + storage research

Ideal Energy receives a $200,000 state grant for solar + storage research

Ideal Energy receives a $200,000 state grant for energy storage research

The Ideal Newsroom | 10.2.2018

FAIRFIELD, Iowa, (October 2nd, 2018) – The Fairfield Economic Development Association (FEDA) has facilitated a $200,000 research grant for Ideal Energy, a local solar company and industry leader, to further renewable energy efforts and growth in Iowa. The grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) will be used to evaluate the performance of the first large-scale solar plus battery storage installations in the state. The two installations, located in Fairfield at Agri-Industrial Plastics Company and Maharishi University of Management, are Iowa’s largest solar plus storage projects and are among the most innovative renewable energy projects in the Midwest.

Two of Ideal energy’s installations, located in Fairfield at Agri-Industrial Plastics Company and Maharishi University of Management, are Iowa’s largest solar plus storage projects and are among the most innovative renewable energy projects in the Midwest.

“We are thrilled with how this grant has come together, thanks to strong leadership from the partners behind these installations,” said Joshua Laraby, executive director for FEDA. “The research will help business and industry in Iowa lower their energy costs and increase their competitiveness.”

FEDA is sponsoring the study and will partner with Ideal Energy to carry out the research. Known as the Fairfield Energy Storage System Demonstration, the study will compare the different approaches used in each project and evaluate the return on investment, operation and maintenance considerations, battery performance and effectiveness of solar tracking. Additionally, the study will analyze job creation opportunities related to the growing storage market over the course of 18 months. Iowa State University’s (ISU) Electric Power Research Center is also partnering on the project.

“When I’m selling the state of Iowa to manufacturers around the world, I always mention our energy portfolio,” said Debi Durham, Director of IEDA. “It is surprising and differentiating that we can consistently, efficiently, and affordably meet the needs of a production-based economy with 40 percent renewable sources.”

The State of Iowa is a leader in renewable energy, thanks in-part to the Iowa Energy Plan released in December 2016. The Plan is a roadmap for maintaining the state’s momentum in the energy space and has been held up as a gold standard by industry experts. Iowa ranks second in the nation in wind generation and has a fast-growing solar energy market.

This research project has several implications for Iowa. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Iowa has among the highest demand charges in the nation, with many commercial customers paying demand charges over $20/kW. NREL research shows Iowa may have more than 23,000 customers who could benefit from solar plus battery energy storage.

This research also could provide a replicable template to increase business savings, bring solar to customers who otherwise would not be able to use it effectively and make Iowa even more nationally competitive. A state-level battery energy storage committee – formed in follow-up to the Energy Plan – will evaluate the findings of this research project and consider how to best apply lessons learned throughout Iowa.

High demand charges?

Work with an Ideal Energy expert to discover how battery energy storage systems can help.

Agri-Industrial Plastics Company

The installation at Agri-Industrial Plastics Company (AIP) will consist of a 517 kilowatt (kW) solar array with a lithium-ion battery energy storage system. This is the first large-scale commercial lithium-ion installation in Iowa.

The storage component uses lithium-ion batteries, which have a long lifespan and are ideal for daily cycling. AIP operates 27 production lines, 24 hours a day, which means intensified energy needs. The battery energy storage system will extend the usefulness of AIP’s solar array into the night, saving AIP more than $42,000 per year and facilitating future growth.

Maharishi Universtiy of Management

Maharishi University of Management (MUM) is installing a 1.1 megawatt (MW) solar array with a 1.1 MWH battery energy storage system. This is the largest solar plus battery storage project in Iowa. The project will bring MUM’s renewable energy share to nearly 40 percent and significantly reduce the University’s utility bills. Construction is expected to be complete by mid-November.

The installation will use an active tracking technology that allows solar panels to follow the sun’s movement across the sky, yielding up to 25 percent more energy than a fixed-tilt array. The tracking system features a vanadium flow battery which is DC coupled with the array for maximized efficiency. MUM’s solar array will generate one-third of the annual electricity needs of the University.

How Solar Plus Battery Storage Works

Battery energy storage systems are key to further technical advancement in the renewable energy industry. Batteries can be used for emergency backup, off-grid homes and more, but their most important application is peak shaving.

Peak shaving cuts expensive charges by reducing electricity consumption during peak usage times, such as summer afternoons. The charges may increase a customer’s electrical costs for the entire year and account for as much as 30 percent to 70 percent of a customer’s utility bill.

Battery energy storage systems automatically detect when power usage exceeds a predetermined threshold and switch from the grid or solar panels to batteries until the additional demand is over. When demand is lower the batteries recharge.

About Ideal Energy

Ideal Energy, based in Fairfield, is one of Iowa’s leading solar energy firms. Ideal will design and build the solar plus battery storage systems at Agri-Industrial Plastics and Maharishi University. Ideal Energy installed the first solar + battery storage system in the state for Coralville retailer Stuff Etc and has been a pioneer in battery energy storage in the Midwest.

Above: A 37.8 kW installation on the MUM campus, installed by Ideal Energy in 2015. Combined with the new 1.1 MW installation, these arrays enable the university to generate 40% of their power onsite.

Get specific answers about how battery energy storage systems can impact your utility bills.

Explore in Depth

See more articles & ideas from Ideal Energy

Agri-Industrial Plastics to install large-scale solar & storage system

-FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE-

Agri-Industrial Plastics to install large-scale solar & storage system

FAIRFIELD, Iowa, July 19th, 2018 – Agri-Industrial Plastics Co. (AIP), a leading manufacturer of blow molded plastic parts, is about to begin construction of a 517 kilowatt (kW) solar array and a 424 kW-hour Tesla battery system at its facility in Fairfield, Iowa. This is the first solar project in the Midwest to incorporate Tesla Powerpack.

Lori Schaefer-Weaton, president of AIP, said the decision was motivated by the company’s high utility costs. Blow molding is energy intensive and the scale of AIP’s operation magnifies the company’s energy demands.

“We run 27 lines 24 hours a day,” Schaefer-Weaton said. “These are huge utility bills.”

Schaefer-Weaton also sees benefits beyond the bottom line. She expects the array to attract forward-thinking employees. The state-of-the-art solar project will fit in at AIP’s facility, which uses robotic automation, sophisticated engineering techniques, and features a clean and modern work environment. The array will also demonstrate to AIP’s customers – many of which have green initiatives of their own – that AIP is planning for the long-term.

“We think the payback will be there,” Schaefer-Weaton said. “Some of it will be in things we can measure really easily, like our utility bill. Some will be strategic, longer term, by building excitement around working at Agri-Industrial Plastics and being part of something bigger.”

Tesla Powerpack, which is a battery energy storage system designed for commercial and utility-scale customers, will allow AIP to ‘peak shave.’ Peak shaving cuts expensive demand charges by reducing electricity consumption during high times such as hot summer days. Demand charges can increase a customer’s electrical costs for the entire year and account for up to 30% to 70% of a customer’s utility bill.

Battery energy storage systems automatically detect when power usage exceeds a pre-determined threshold and switch from the grid or solar panels to batteries until the additional demand is over. When demand goes back down the batteries recharge.

Because AIP runs three shifts, its power usage is high at night when solar arrays are not producing. Battery energy storage systems provide a solution, allowing AIP to peak shave at any time, day or night.

Ideal Energy, one of Iowa’s leading solar energy firms, will design and build the array and install the Tesla Powerpack system. Ideal Energy installed the first solar + storage system in the state and has been a pioneer in the battery energy storage field in the Midwest.

The array, which will be built on the roof of AIP’s 340,000 square foot facility at 22nd St. and Grimes Ave., will save the company an average of $42,477 per year and prevent 9,377 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere over the next 25 years – equivalent to over 10 million pounds of coal.

“I would consider it a strategic investment for our future,” Schaefer-Weaton said. “We’re in it for the long haul. We’re in it for our customers, we’re in it for our employees, we’re in it for our community of Fairfield.”

END

Media Contact:

Amy Van Beek
[email protected]
641-209-3288

END

Pin It on Pinterest