By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Jay Collins has a new environmentally friendly roof on his business, Window World.
Some 6,000 square feet are covered by solar panels, helping produce 60 kilowatts of electricity an hour.
Window World participates in a special Tennessee Valley Authority project, Generation Partners, that provides incentives and technical support for the installation of renewable energy-generation facilities.
Collins relocated Window World to Cliff Gookin Boulevard last July, but had long planned to install solar panels. It took a full year from planning to execution, but Collins said it was well worth the effort.
“I went to college in 1981 and wanted to be a solar engineer,” he said. “But the timing wasn’t right for it like it is today. So, I got my business degree. Now it’s come full circle, things have changed, and here we are again with renewed interest in solar energy.”
The solar array system went online in late March, and since then has generated more than 11,600 kilowatts of electricity. The typical U.S. home uses about that much in a year.
“It’s not much, but if a lot of people are doing it, it all adds up,” Collins said.
One of TVA’s focuses has been to generate more electricity from renewable sources like solar, wind and water. The utility, like so many others, has been reliant on coal plants to generate electricity. But increased environmental regulations, combined with its own desire to find more renewable sources, have moved TVA to initiate programs like Generation Partner.
In the program, TVA buys all of the “green” energy. Participants don’t use the electricity directly, but the big payoff is that carbon emissions are reduced.
“TVA is proud to celebrate Tupelo’s first Generation Partner solar project in the first city to offer TVA power,” said David Sparks, TVA energy efficiency manager. “This 60-kilowatt system will add local green renewable energy to help TVA meet the energy needs of Mississippi customers.”
The solar panels on Window World’s roof generate direct current, which is sent to six inverters inside the building. There, the DC is converted to usable alternating current.
The inverters are about the size of a typical breaker box and don’t take up much room.
“Yeah, I was a little disappointed when they set it up – I thought it would be a little more elaborate,” Collins said with a laugh.
Collins will lead tours of the facility on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.