06/04/10 — Solar energy panels help company conserve

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Solar energy panels help company conserve

By Laura Collins
Published in News on June 4, 2010 1:46 PM

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Officials with Jackson and Sons Heating and Air Conditioning show the 110 solar panels on top of the business that generate about 26 kilowatts of electricity every hour during the day. The company is selling its excess electricity back to Progress Energy through a program that provides tax rebates for going green.

Jackson and Sons Heating and Air Conditioning is now producing more electricity than it can use, thanks to about 110 solar panels on its warehouse roof.

The solar panels are supplying enough power to run the 20,000-square-foot warehouse on Indian Springs Road. They generate about 26 kilowatts of electricity per hour during the day.

Rather than immediately using the power those panels are generating, the company is selling the energy back to Progress Energy at a higher rate than it is being charged for the electricity. Progress Energy pays about 18 cents per kilowatt, but charges Jackson and Sons about 13 cents per kilowatt.

"Technically, we are a power plant here. We are producing electricity and selling it to Progress Energy," said David Jackson, Jackson and Sons chief financial officer.

Jackson said the idea originated when the company heard of other businesses around the country doing the same thing. After looking into it, he found that the federal government offers a 30 percent tax rebate and the state offers a 35 percent tax rebate.

"When you do those things together, you get two-thirds of what you paid for back," Jackson said. "Theoretically, within a five-year period of time, we will get all the money back we used to pay for it."

But it's likely the company will actually have the costs paid for in less than three years -- taking into consideration the money the company will make each month, which Jackson said is a couple of hundred dollars based on how much electricity is used that month.

Jackson and his brother Danny Jackson, chief executive officer, said the solar panels are also a way to be environmentally friendly.

"We thought it was a good way to go green," David Jackson said.

"We've always tried to be leaders in energy efficiency," Danny Jackson said. "We started recycling 15 to 20 years ago. The environment is critical. We just felt like the right thing to do was recycle -- and for many years it cost us more to recycle than to send to the landfill."

David Jackson estimates the solar panel system saves about 4,500 pounds of coal per month and saves about 2,000 gallons of water that would be used in the process.