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A 310-panel solar array was installed this winter on the roof of the Milford manufacturing plant, a facility ideally situated with southern exposure, a flat roof and few encroaching shade trees.
Between energy savings, credits and rebates, Amherst Label’s management anticipates a three-five year return on investment.Ask us more
Milford, NH.Milford Manufacturer Sees Solar Savings on the Horizon
At the time Amherst Label was founded, America was reeling from the 1970’s “Energy Crisis,” a dire situation which caused gas and electricity shortages and fueled interest in renewable solar energy, an industry in its infancy.
Fast forward 38 years and Amherst Label is going the solar route. This winter, a solar array of 310 panels has been installed on the roof of the Milford, NH, manufacturing plant, a facility ideally situated with southern exposure, a flat roof and few encroaching shade trees.
Amherst Label Purchasing and Facilities manager Jim Cutler is responsible for the firm’s energy management and believed the timing was right to make a solar investment. Federal tax credits for installation costs and the State of NH commercial rebate program are two reasons. The third is the opportunity to earn Renewable Energy Credits and sell these to other companies seeking to reduce their carbon footprints and improve their environmental report cards. Cutler recognizes that two years ago these credits were selling at a higher rate but he is still glad Amherst Label was able to go solar now.
The manufacturer of custom labels and specialty printed items has a sizable monthly electric bill, recently reviewed by an independent auditor as part of the state’s grant requirements. Cutler reports over 300 light fixtures inside the plant not to mention the requirements of the many printing presses in operation for 1-2 shifts a day. “In an average month, we use 60-70,000 kilowatt hours,” explains Jim. “This is a 100 kilowatt solar system, so we anticipate savings up to 10%.” Between the savings, the credits and rebates, Cutler and other members of Amherst Label management are looking for a three-five year return on investment.
Solar investment is one component of a commitment Amherst Label has made to a program called LIFE Certification. LIFE®, or Label Initiative for the Environment, encourages applicants to measure and reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing. The certification program was introduced in 2009 as an audited process tailored specifically to the narrow web printing and converting industry; ISO 14000 is a comparable program for broader industry segments.
Cutler sees lighting as the next big opportunity for improvement and he’s looking ahead to gradually replacing fluorescents with LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting which has a longer lifespan and no mercury.
Cutler and company are proud that Amherst Label is considering the earth’s resources in its business management practices. But Jim thinks the coolest thing about solar energy will happen a few months from now. “When the sun is at its apex and our usage is at its lowest, that’s when we get a chance to realize our biggest savings. I’m looking forward to 4th of July because we will be closed through Tuesday. It will be fun watching the electric meter go backwards,” says Jim.
Captions: New Watt Energy, Hampstead, NH, is the solar energy resource engaged by Amherst Label to oversee design and installation of its new solar system.
The installation at Amherst Label is a three-part system: 1) Panels collect solar energy; 2) Three inverters convert sunlight to electricity; and, 3) Electricity is delivered to the building.
Cutler estimates that the state rebates will take 25% off the price tag for the system and federal tax credits could save 30%.