Featured in the photo is the Morrissey Engineering Building.

Even in the Midwest, where energy is relatively cheap, solar panels can be used to create energy savings for businesses. For those brave enough to make the switch to solar power, savings can add up over time.

Nearly everything we enjoy and use to enhance our productivity is powered by electricity. From clocks to air conditioners, each device requires a certain amount of kilowatts (kW) to function. Consider the energy requirements of these common devices and the power required to make them work annually as an illustration:

Clock, CD Player, Ceiling Fan          1- 100kWh

Humidifier, TV, Coffee Maker         100 – 500kWh

Computer, Freezer, Lighting          1,000 – 3,500kWh

3.5 Ton Air Conditioner                  5,000 – 10,000kWh

5.0 Ton Air Conditioner                  10,000 – 15,000kWh

It’s easy to see how the power required to operate these devices can add up. In addition to providing a cost-efficient way to power office buildings, renewable energy systems like installed photovoltaic (PV) systems, or solar panels, offer an economic hedge against rising energy prices from local utility companies.

Two Local Leaders Join Forces Around Solar Energy

A local leader in designing renewable energy systems, Morrissey Engineering is no stranger to solar electric technology. It’s 4940 building was the first in Nebraska to be awarded LEED Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). At 15,580 square feet, Morrissey’s building ranks in the top 6 percent of comparable buildings in the country for energy efficiency.

With the cost of the PV based solar electric system technology falling, Morrissey decided now was the time to upgrade its existing 5.5kW PV system which generated about 10,000kWh per year to a 27kW PV system capable of generating about 42,000kWh per year. The move allows Morrissey to produce a significant portion of its own electricity on-site.

Partly as a demonstration of it’s capability in creating renewable energy systems, Morrissey Engineering designed a PV system and chose a local leader among commercial electrical contractors, Miller Electric, to install it. Jared Friesen, Electrical Engineering Project Manager and Renewable Energy Specialist for Morrissey Engineering, said his company’s previous experience with Miller Electric was the deciding factor in choosing it to install this upgrade to its PV system. “With the economic return of these systems requiring that they hold up for many years, having Miller Electric install it offered added protection of our investment,” Friesen said.

The feeling is mutual as everyone at Miller Electric thoroughly enjoyed working with Morrissey Engineering on the solar project. “Jared did an excellent job managing the project and all of our guys who worked on it had a very positive experience,” said Jeff Boots, Project Manager for Miller Electric.

Miller Electric Shines in New Solar System Installation

Boots managed installation of the 6-string, 72-panel PV system for Morrissey. “Even though it was our first solar installation, our team of three guys – Andy Kroupa, Zach Sands, and Mike Green, turned it around in two weeks,” Boots said. “We followed Morrissey’s design and now they have a ‘show-roof’ so to speak, that they can use to showcase their solar electric system design capabilities to other companies interested in including PV systems in their electrical mix.”

Featured in the photos above is the 6-string, 72-panel PV system.

Speaking of the system Miller Electric installed, Morrissey Engineering Principal, George Morrissey said, “We were able to determine that on top of the environmental and building performance improvements the system would provide, we will actually pay less for the energy the system produces than the energy we would have otherwise bought from the local electric utility. In essence, it is an economic hedge against rising electric utility prices.”

New System Enables Projected Energy Costs of Less Than 8 Cents Per kWh

Friesen predicts that when the installation cost of the system is amortized over its 25 year life span, the energy it produces will cost Morrissey well under eight cents per kWh. “All of the energy the system produces will be energy Morrissey doesn’t buy from the electric utility,” Friesen said. “Other companies in the region should consider these systems as revenue generators. While nobody knows for sure what the per unit utility rates will be in the next 5-15 years, history tells us that these costs will escalate while the cost of energy from an installed solar system will remain the same.”

Facility managers and building owners facing new construction or re-roofing of existing construction should use the construction as an opportunity to consider installing a PV system. If a decision to explore solar energy is made, Morrissey Engineering and Miller Electric can turn the desire for cost-effective, self-generating solar electricity into a reality.

See how much electricity Morrissey’s PV system is producing and discover ways to conserve energy simply at its Building Dashboard today.