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It’s no secret the sun doesn’t shine every day in Syracuse, N.Y. In fact, Syracuse is known for receiving the most snowfall in the eastern United States, with an average of more than 150 inches per winter season. But that hasn’t stopped Nick Orso’s Body Shop in Syracuse from completing one of the largest installations of solar power panels in the Central New York area.
In February 2011, Nick Orso’s President Mike Orso met with New York Light Energy after viewing a similar installation in Albany at Caprara’s Auto Body. Orso says he was intent on installing solar panels for electric production at the 25,000-square-foot Nick Orso’s production facility.
After a few months of calculations, an engineering report determined the building had sufficient structural integrity to support the weight of the solar panels and that the electrical consumption Orso’s required would eventually benefit from the cost of installation. After approval, New York Light Energy began installation in May 2011. It took about five months to install the over 270 Mitsubishi solar electric cells on the shop’s roof, according to Orso.
The shop consumes 250,000 kWh of electricity during the average month. The solar panels are estimated to produce 150,000 kWh per month at a conservative production estimate of 55-percent efficiency. Solar power is produced at a cost of approximately 2.2 cents/kWh, while typical grid demand power costs approximately 9 cents/kWh. Any over-production, such as while the shop is closed, will be sold back to National Grid through a special two-way meter.
“We’re very excited about the solar installation and look forward to the many benefits of solar power," said Orso. "Over the past few years, with any new equipment purchase, we’re looking to the newest technology in minimizing our power consumption. Besides the direct benefits, it’s good to know we’re contributing to a more energy-efficient world.”
Other Green Initiatives
Since October 2009, Nick Orso’s has used NAPA-Martin Senour waterborne paint technology exclusively to lower the volatile organic compounds (VOC) their painting operation produces. The paint operation is well below the 2014 state and federal limits, according to Orso. The shop also installed energy-efficient heat makeup systems in the paint drying operation.
In June 2011, Nick Orso’s installed an energy-efficient Kaeser modulation screw-type compressor that requires 50 percent less electricity than standard reciprocal or screw compressors. The facility has also been re-lamped with energy efficient lamps and ballasts, according to Orso.
Next, Orso says an exterior lighting program is being proposed in an effort to make outside lights more energy-efficient.