Oregon Pepsi Cola Plant Unveils 172 kW Solar Project

It all started when Pepsi Cola General Manager John Bocchi decided to improve the energy efficiency of the lighting systems at one of the company’s facilities in Klamath Falls. Instead of simply changing over to more efficient light bulbs, the company installed a 172 kW solar electric system at three separate locations. The system should generate all of the energy that the facilities will use over the course of a year.

The first completed system is at the company’s warehouse at 1275 S.12th St. in Lakeview. This 11 kW system features 64 photovoltaic (PV) panels and started generating power in September. Another warehouse at 3930 Miller Ave., in Klamath Falls was outfitted with a 29 kW system comprised of 165 PV panels. These two systems are net-metered, so that excess power generated by the system flows back to the local electricity grid for a credit on Pepsi’s bill from Pacific Power. The largest installation is at the company’s main office and warehouse at 4033 Miller Ave., Klamath Falls. The 132 kW system features building-integrated photovoltaic technology (BIPV), with 1,042 laminated solar panels that are literally bonded to the entire metal roof. “The material used for building-integrated systems is extremely lightweight and unbreakable, making it a good choice for metal roof structures that cannot hold the weight of more common framed PV panels,” said David Parker of Advanced Energy Systems, Eugene, Oregon, whose company designed and installed the system. “This is the best technology available today to integrate solar panels into a building’s roof. We have created a solar project which will generate all of the electricity Pepsi needs on an annual basis to run its operations in Klamath and Lake Counties.” As a condition of the contract with Energy Trust and the State of Oregon, all solar electric systems receiving incentives and tax credits must be connected to the local utility grid. Bocchi estimates that Pepsi will export about 50,000 kWh of electricity to the Pacific Power grid per year after satisfying its own internal loads. The project contained many firsts, according to Parker. “Pepsi Cola of Klamath Falls has now taken the lead in the Pacific Northwest by installing 172 kW of solar electric panels on three commercial buildings,” Parker said. “Plus, it has installed the largest individual system at 132 kW and the largest building-integrated photovoltaic system in the region, being a pioneer for this revolutionary solar technology to be adopted on a large scale.” It was a combination of tax credits, financial incentives, attractive loan terms and the prospect of eliminating all of their electric bills that attracted Pepsi to solar energy. “The tax benefits for installing a solar electric system are substantial and the prospect of making all the electricity we need is appealing,” said Bocchi. “I don’t know why more businesses aren’t taking advantage of this. It makes financial sense and it’s the right thing to do.” The package of incentives and tax credits that closed the deal for the Bocchi family included US $210,000 in financial incentives from Energy Trust of Oregon, US $444,412 in Business Energy Tax Credits from the Oregon Department of Energy, an accelerated state and federal tax depreciation schedule and a financing package from the Oregon Energy Loan Program. The Oregon Department of Energy’s State Energy Loan Program is providing a US $950,000 loan to finance the project over six years. Business Energy Tax Credits are also available to help offset the cost of the investment in renewable energy technologies. According to Simms, the Energy Loan Program is currently reviewing two other large solar electric loan applications. The Energy Loan Program provides low-interest, fixed-rate loans for projects that promote energy conservation or renewable energy resources. Since the program’s first loan in 1981, it has financed 606 projects for $315 million. The Energy Loan Program issues state general obligation bonds and borrowers pay for the cost of the program.
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