Solar 2009: Giving back a little at a time

Is there a future in solar-powered phones? How about starting out with solar-powered phone companies?

As part of a building renovation at the Amherst Telephone Company headquarters in Amherst, Wis., metal roofing and crystalline solar panels were installed in the fall of 2008.

Gary Hansen of Coyote Roofing in Amherst manufactured the roofing panels onsite with a roll former from ESE Machines and 26-gauge steel from Sheffield Metals. During the design stages, communication with the solar installer was crucial. “Because the roof was a 12:12 slope, we had to use extra clips so the roofing panels wouldn’t slide or move at all with the weight of the solar panels,” Hansen says. “We installed clips every eight inches. Otherwise, it was just like any other installation.”

The Dark Bronze double lock standing seam panels along the south side of the building really serve more as a mansard and base for the solar panels from Kyocera Solar. The remainder of the roof, installed by Blenker Construction and Ray Schulist Builders, both of Amherst, installed a Galvalume standing seam roof from MBCI on the low slope portion of the roof.

Jim Kerbel of Photovoltaic Systems of Amherst, Wis., handled installation of the solar panels, manufactured by Kyocera Solar. The panels were attached to the standing seam roofing with clamps from S-5! Solutions. The installation of the solar panels took about four days. Kerbel has been installing solar panels for 29 years.

“It was a good project for us to work on, fun project,” he says. “It’s a 7.6 kW system, which is about average for what we do around here. The best part is we were working with a good roofer and builder, so everything was square and straight. We’ve worked on projects that in a 20-foot area, it was off by 6 inches.

This system will produce enough electricity to cover about one month’s electricity each year. Still, Kerbel says between the rebates, incentives and grants, the payback on the system should be less than 10 years. “And the life expectancy is 40 years,” he says.

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