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.”

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Media Contact:

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

END

Maharishi University of Management to be Powered by 1.1 Megawatt Solar Array

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Maharishi University of Management to be Powered by 1.1 Megawatt Solar Array

FAIRFIELD, Iowa, May 1st, 2018 – Maharishi University of Management (MUM) will soon be home to one of Iowa’s largest solar arrays. The 1.1 megawatt array – over 200 times the size of a typical residential array – will cover 5 acres of land adjacent to campus. The project also includes a 1 megawatt-hour battery energy storage system – the largest system of its kind in the Midwest.

The solar array will generate enough power to meet one-third of MUM’s annual electricity needs. In addition to those savings, the battery energy storage system will reduce the demand charge portion of MUM’s utility bill by around one-third.

Ideal Energy is designing and building the array. Construction is scheduled to begin early this summer and take around two months.

Not your standard solar array

Battery energy storage systems are at the cutting of edge of 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 demand charges by reducing electricity consumption during peak usage times like hot summer days. Demand charges can increase a customer’s electrical costs for the entire year. For customers on demand charge utility tariffs, between 30% and 70% of the utility bill may be made up of demand charges.

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

The battery energy storage system serving MUM is among the most innovative and sophisticated systems available. NX Drive, made by NEXTracker, uses vanadium flow batteries. Unlike lithium ion batteries, vanadium flow batteries degrade very little over time – as little as 2% in 25 years.

Ideal Energy is incorporating another sophisticated design element in the array: decentralized active tracking. Active tracking systems follow the Sun’s path across the sky, yielding 20-25% more energy than a fixed tilt array.

NX Horizon, also made by NEXTracker, is a particularly advanced active tracking system because it is decentralized. Each row of solar panels has its own motor and sensors and integrates with smart control software to independently find the best angle for maximum electricity production.

The MUM array will be the first system in the Midwest to combine active tracking and battery energy storage on a large scale.

MUM continues to lead on sustainability

Maharishi University of Management is a committed leader in sustainability. The university pioneered the first degree program in sustainable living in the United States, has built low-carbon footprint buildings, implemented composting and recycling programs, and committed to switching a significant portion of its energy use to renewable sources. Past and present MUM presidents, Drs. Bevan Morris and John Hagelin have supported and signed the University President Climate Initiative and Paris Climate Initiative with the intention of moving MUM to become a carbon-neutral campus.

The new solar array, two existing solar arrays, and a wind turbine on campus, along with the wind portfolio of MUM’s utility, will generate over 43% of MUM’s electricity –a transformative leap toward achieving carbon neutrality.

The array, which will be visible from the railroad segment of the Fairfield Loop Trail running from 8th St. and Gear Ave. over Highway 1, will be a dramatic view of Fairfield’s clean energy future.

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Contact:

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

Governor Reynolds & Lt. Governor Gregg Visit Fairfield for Solar Energy Tour

-FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE-

Governor Kim Reynolds and Lt. Governor Adam Gregg visited Ideal Energy Solar today to tour operations and learn about the job creation and positive economic impact solar energy provides to the state of Iowa. There are more than 700 people employed in the solar industry in Iowa, up 14 percent from 2015. Solar energy is installed in at least 97 of Iowa’s 99 counties, providing economic impact all across the state.

During the visit, the Governor and Lt. Governor spoke with Ideal Energy founder and former US Navy SEAL Troy Van Beek about Iowa’s leadership role in the nation’s growing clean energy economy. Iowa is at the forefront of utility-scale wind projects and in recent years has seen explosive growth in solar installations among utilities, businesses and homeowners.

“It’s wonderful to visit companies like Ideal Energy Solar to see the direct employee investment firsthand and to see how they help other businesses innovate with energy,” Governor Kim Reynolds said. “I just visited a manufacturer in Pilot Grove last week that powers its facility 100 percent by a solar field installed by Ideal Energy. Renewable energy benefits all Iowans through low electricity rates and job creation and helps companies generate savings to invest back into their operations.”

Governor Reynolds and Lt. Governor Gregg also toured a local solar installation at Schaus-Vorhies Manufacturing (SVM) in Fairfield. The half-megawatt solar field sits on a previously contaminated EPA cleanup site and produces revenue for SVM through avoided energy costs. Completed in the winter of 2016, the solar field is one of the largest privately owned solar arrays in Iowa and has helped transform the business.

In addition, leaders from businesses that have invested in solar installations were in attendance to showcase how the savings from their solar energy investment allows them to reinvest in their employees and the customers they serve. Jennifer Steffensmeier, President of Steffensmeier Welding and Manufacturing, and Mary Sundblad, Owner of Stuff, Etc., discussed how their companies have invested in solar projects at their respective businesses and now see substantial savings that enable them to put the savings to work by hiring more employees and investing in training, equipment, and expansion.

“Renewable energy has proven it creates jobs and supports our Iowa communities,” said Troy Van Beek, Founder and CEO of Ideal Energy Solar. “Small business is the backbone of the economy. Solar energy supports 30 jobs at our company alone, and also has a trickle-down economic impact throughout the supply chain and other industries in Iowa.”

The solar representatives shared with Governor Reynolds how good public policy plays an important role in the development of renewable energy. Examples of policy discussed include the tax credit programs, the federal Suniva trade case and energy innovation for battery storage and new technologies.

Media Contact:

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

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Sen. Joni Ernst visits Ideal Energy to discuss Iowa’s leadership role in solar energy

-FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE-

Sen. Joni Ernst visits Ideal Energy to discuss Iowa’s leadership role in solar energy
FAIRFIELD, Iowa, August 23rd, 2017 – Senator Joni Ernst made a stop in Fairfield, Iowa, on Thursday, August 17th to visit Ideal Energy, Inc. and tour one of the largest solar arrays in the state.

During her visit the senator spoke with Ideal Energy founder and former US Navy SEAL Troy Van Beek about Iowa’s leadership role in the nation’s growing clean energy economy. Iowa is at the forefront of utility-scale wind projects and in recent years has seen explosive growth in solar installations among utilities, businesses, and homeowners.

Senator Ernst also toured Schaus-Vorhies Manufacturing’s half megawatt solar field, which provides 100% of the business’s energy needs and puts a formerly contaminated EPA cleanup site to productive use. The solar field was designed and built by Ideal Energy and is one of the largest privately owned solar arrays in Iowa.

“Iowa is leading the Midwest’s clean energy economy because of strong leadership from our politicians, businesses, homeowners, and utilities,” says Van Beek. “There is still a lot to do to prepare for the future – and we want to remain on the forefront. I want to see Iowa as a net exporter of clean energy, with 100% or more of our energy production coming from renewables.”

At the end of 2016, 97 of Iowa’s 99 counties had installed solar projects benefitting from Iowa’s solar tax credit, and the state had more distributed solar installed than neighboring Midwest states with a total of 41.8 megawatts. Van Beek encouraged Senator Ernst to continue supporting both distributed generation and utility-scale renewable energy projects in the state.

Media Contact:

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

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Fairfield solar company Ideal Energy helps two customers win state-wide awards

-FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE-

FAIRFIELD, Iowa, January 20th, 2017 – Two customers of Fairfield-based solar company Ideal Energy won 1000 Friends of Iowa’s 2016 Best Development Awards. The annual awards showcase sustainable development projects throughout the state. Solar power was an integral part of each award.

Founded in 2009 by Troy and Amy Van Beek, Ideal Energy has grown from a small energy audit consultancy to a full service solar energy company with 30 employees. Recent commercial-scale projects include the Schaus-Vorhies Manufacturing solar field on Ninth Street in Fairfield and Stuff Etc consignment stores in Coralville and Cedar Rapids.

Steffensmeier Welding & Manufacturing won a Best Development Award in the Renewable Energy category for its solar field. Todd Schneider won in the Renovated Residential category for the School House Apartments redevelopment project.

Steffensmeier is a welding and light manufacturing company near Pilot Grove, Iowa. Jennifer Steffensmeier, president and owner, hired Ideal Energy to design and build a net-zero solar installation for her company. A net-zero solar installation produces 100% of a customer’s energy needs from solar power. This was a substantial challenge due to the energy-intensive welding and laser cutting work done by the company.

Ideal Energy designed a 430 kilowatt key-shaped ground-mount array and an innovative power management strategy to deliver net-zero performance. Steffensmeier is now the largest welding and manufacturing facility in Iowa powered completely by the sun.

The School House Apartments building is a renovated, decommissioned middle school in Fort Madison, Iowa. Schneider purchased the old Fort Madison Middle School from the school district, which was planning to demolish the building, and redeveloped it into high-quality, affordable apartments.

Ideal Energy worked with Schneider throughout the grant writing process, helping him win nearly $3 million in Community Development Block Grants from the Iowa Economic Development Authority. Schneider installed low-flow fixtures, energy efficient water heaters, and additional insulation. Once the project had the go-ahead, Ideal Energy constructed a 300 kilowatt solar array. With all these upgrades School House Apartments is one of the greenest residential projects in Iowa.

1000 Friends of Iowa is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting responsible land use, smart growth, and sustainable development. The organization announced the winners in early January and honored the award recipients at a ceremony in Des Moines on January 19th.

Media Contact:

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

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Schaus-Vorhies Installs Largest Privately Owned Solar Field in Iowa

-FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE-

Ideal Energy is installing one of the largest privately owned solar arrays in Iowa at Schaus-Vorhies Companies’ location on Ninth Street in Fairfield, Iowa. The half-megawatt project is going up where the Iowa Malleable foundry once stood. Considered a toxic site in the 1990s, this restored brownfield is now being repurposed as a sustainable energy source for one of Fairfield’s leading businesses.

FAIRFIELD, Iowa, October 5, 2016 – Schaus-Vorhies Companies will soon get much of its power from the Sun thanks to a large solar energy installation currently under construction. Ideal Energy, one of Iowa’s leading solar energy companies, is building the 499.8 kilowatt (kW) solar power array. The array is located north of the train tracks on Ninth Street at the site of the old Iowa Malleable Iron Company foundry. The array will power Schaus-Vorhies Companies’ manufacturing division.

The array is one of the largest privately-owned solar installations in Iowa. The $1.2 million project will pay for itself within seven years and generate over 650,000 kilowatt hours per year for Schaus-Vorhies Companies. During the next 25 years it will prevent 10,587 metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, equivalent to about 25 million miles driven in a typical passenger car.

Roger Vorhies, Vice-President of Schaus-Vorhies Companies, said the company didn’t seriously consider solar power until they saw the projected savings. The numbers spoke for themselves. “The reason this was an easy decision for us to make on a $1.2 million investment was because [of the] very limited risk,” Vorhies said.

Schaus-Vorhies Companies has a long history of community-oriented and sustainability-focused projects. Some of its past projects include the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center, the Pilot Grove Savings Bank, and Cambridge Investment Research’s offices, which are LEED Silver certified. Schaus-Vorhies Companies also gave the use of its land, power, and water for an insulated greenhouse on the old Iowa Malleable property as part of the Iowa Department of Agriculture’s Farm-to-School Program. The greenhouse is filled with certified-organic topsoil and warmed by the sand beds at Paint-Line, Inc., via a reverse-geothermal system.

The Iowa Malleable facility was considered a toxic waste site in the 1990s. After a vandalism-related fuel oil spill in 1995, the EPA commenced emergency cleanup operations there, removing over 800 tons of PCB-contaminated soil, 60,000 gallons of fuel oil, and several hundred square feet of asbestos insulation and tile. After testing proved the site to be safe from contaminants, the Fairfield Economic Development Association took over ownership and demolished most of the buildings. Now that Schaus-Vorhies Companies owns the site, the restored industrial brownfield has a new purpose as a sustainable, clean energy source.

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

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