JE Berkowitz Hosts Celebration for Start-up
of New Rooftop Solar System
June 24, 2010
|JE Berkowitzs 7,200-panel rooftop solar
array was fully energized on May 20.
JE Berkowitz LP (JEB) hosted a ceremony yesterday at its facility
in Pedricktown, N.J., celebrating the full start-up of its new 7,200-panel
rooftop solar array. The panels cover the expanse of the companys
180,000-squrae-foot plant roof and are expected to produce more
than 2 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year and save approximately
25 percent of the manufacturing plants electric power expense
In an exclusive interview with USGNN.com/USGlass magazine,
JEB president Arthur Berkowitz explained that the concept began
in 2009. The company took into consideration the federal governments
American Recovery Act program (ARRA), which provides a 30-percent
grant within 90 days of commissioning the solar installation, as
well as the State of New Jersey solar renewal energy certificates
(S-RECs) program when deciding to undertake the more than $7 million
|JE Berkowitz hosted employees,
state and local officials, members of solar installer Ray Angelini
Inc., and employees of Citizens Bank at yesterday's celebration
of its new solar panel array.
Given the fact that were a huge user of power, the
state of New Jersey has very attractive S-RECs and the ARRA had
this grant, we began to do a study. We hired a consultant, began
to interview a series of contractors and looked at two approaches
to be in the solar business, Berkowitz said.
Those approaches include using a power purchase agreement (PPA),
or essentially leasing the system. Its attractive if
you dont have the financing to do it, but ultimately the payback
is not there, Berkowitz said. Instead JEB purchased its system,
an option, he added, that has a much more aggressive payback.
After an extensive interview process, the company went with a contractor
based in New Jersey, Ray Angelini Inc. (RAI), which has tackled
some of the states larger solar installations. We felt
comfortable that he had the resources and the wherewithal,
Berkowitz said. Ultimately we buy the panel and we would buy
the inverters, and theyre pretty much a given - its
all about the installation. You dont want to go with someone
whos learning the process. Part of the importance JEB
placed on having an experienced installer came down to the fact
that RAI is responsible for maintenance of the panels throughout
the life of the building.
|Ray Angelini told attendees of yesterdays
celebration that JE Berkowitzs new solar array would produce
in a year power equivalent to the electricity consumed by 174
homes in a year.
They monitor it 24/7. Back in their offices they have computer
monitoring that says, hey this panel is out. They have
a very tight period of time when they come back and change it out,
RAI elected to use solar panels manufactured by Sharp Corp., which
has manufacturing facilities in Memphis, Tenn.
We felt that since the funding is coming from the federal
government and the state of New Jersey, if this panel is efficient
and if the cost was competitive, then [a U.S.-made panel] is the
route we wanted to go, Berkowitz added.
Once permitting and engineering studies had been completed, site
work began on January 22, 2010. JEB operated as usual during the
installation. There were a couple weekends where we had to
shut off all our power while they were doing hook-ups, but there
was zero impact on our operations, Berkowitz said. Despite
delays that included record-breaking snowstorms and hurdles thrown
out by the electric company, the company completed the installation
on April 16.
That hurdle, Berkowitz explained, was an additional study requested
by the electric company as the installation neared completion. This
is such a large install that the power company was concerned about
the impact of this amount of power being sent back to the grid,
Berkowitz said. They were used to people with small homes
or stores that had 20 to 30 panels on them. This is a 1.7 mW system.
Monday through Friday when were in operation, were consuming
all that power. On weekends, when were not operating, the
great bulk of that power is being sent back to the grid.
|Arthur Berkowitz thanked the players in JE
Berkowitzs solar installation, including the internal
team made up of his father Ed Berkowitz, CFO Dave Byruch and
project manager George Smith.
Although the study delayed the full energizing of the system by
several weeks, it ultimately showed that the inverters and system
would have no detrimental effect on the local utilities. On May
20 the systems eight inverters were fully energized.
Although its early to see any return on the significant investment,
Berkowitz noted that as of yesterdays celebration, Were
just approaching 400,000 kW hours of power that weve produced.
Berkowitz offered a few pieces of advice for other companies considering
- Know your consumption of electric.
- Learn about your states S-RECs.
- Consider your lending institutions interest or knowledge
of solar energy financing. You have to understand that the
banks in United States are not particularly knowledgeable in solar
financing. Its a new market to them, Berkowitz said.
He added, We have a very cooperative and helpful bank, Citizens
Bank, and when they understood the model, the impact and what
we consider to be an aggressive payback, which is under five years,
they signed on.
- Consider your location. We did a study based on a 30-year
history of weather patterns, Berkowitz said. It says
is we can expect about 185 days of sun per year.
- Consider your facility and roof. Remember youre
putting a huge amount of weight on the roof, Berkowitz says.
While JEBs building, erected just three years ago, was prepared
for the load, he noted, A lot of people get into this with
older buildings and they spend as much money reinforcing the roof
as the actual installation.
Need more info and analysis about the issues?
HERE to subscribe to USGlass magazine.