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Auburn's Torr Technologies goes big, powers up with industrial solar system
Torr Technologies, Inc., an Auburn manufacturer of composites, laminating tools and hardware, recently began producing something entirely different: solar-powered electricity.
In fact, Torr’s 24-kilowatt (kW) solar array is now the largest industrial generator of solar power in Puget Sound Energy’s nine-county electric service area.
The Auburn company, owned by Greg Lindstrom and Paul Schneider, connected its new, roof-mounted energy system to PSE’s electric grid in October.
“PSE is proud to work with customers like Torr who are enthusiastic and committed to renewable energy,” said Gary Nomensen, PSE’s local government and community relations manager. “With solar energy becoming an increasingly valuable resource for our region, Puget Sound Energy strives to help customers interested in adding renewable-energy systems to their homes and businesses.”
A 24-kW solar-power array in Western Washington can, on average, generate 100 percent of the net electricity needs of two typical homes.
In addition to the solar installation, Lindstrom and Schneider have made other energy efficient upgrades to the Torr facility, including heat pumps with air-to-air thermal exchangers, fiberglass windows and doors, insulation, ductless heat pumps and an electric car charging station.
The entire project began in July 2009 when Lindstrom started looking into energy efficient cooling systems as a result of several consecutive 100-degree days when the facility was unable to be cooled by opening doors and using fans to circulate air.
Lindstrom noted that the most important benefit of the solar array is its ability to provide a clean energy source for electric vehicles. “How do we supply power to the increasing number of electric vehicles without having to build more power plants?” asked Lindstrom. “By putting PV (photovoltaic) panels on big, flat, empty roofs like ours, it’s a way small businesses can give back to the environment.”
Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis is supportive of solar power growth in the city.
“The City of Auburn has been heavily engaged with its green community and is pleased to hear of yet another Auburn success story,” Lewis said. “Congratulations, Torr Technologies.”
“We receive tax credits and rebates with our solar installation, which help offset the cost,” Lindstrom said. “We also get a nice check from PSE for the energy we produce and send back to the grid. In addition to these direct monetary paybacks, we also get a more comfortable work environment, and our project has created quite a buzz with our customers and suppliers.”
There are various financial incentives available to PSE customers to help pay for residential or commercial solar installations. One provides customers with a 30-percent federal tax credit.
Customers looking to add solar-power systems or other renewable energy systems at their home or business can call a PSE Energy Advisor at 1-800-562-1482, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or visit www.pse.com.