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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Farm-Way Inc – Getting Greener

By Skip Metayer

Many things influenced us in the decision to go solar almost three years ago. Be it from our customers that were pursuing or were involved in some aspect of green energy themselves, to the expansion only a couple of years earlier of our retail store of approx. 70% increase, which resulted in much more energy consumption with the additional utilities encompassed {air handling, heating, cooling and lighting}. These things along with our own growing concern of our environment led us to take the step towards dissolving a large portion of our impact at our community level though at the time the economy was on the decline.

We are still, after just shy of three years, extremely excited about this venture we have taken, and by our customers comments, so are they. Construction of this system began in mid October of 2008, and had begun collecting power from our system by the beginning of January 2009.

Farm-Way and “Vermont Gear”, our retail web site, with the help of the “Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund, have invested over $450,000 in our solar panel project from the Gro Solar company in White River Junction, Vt. Grant money from the Vermont Clean energy fund helped get this project off the ground and was received in May of 2008.

The 308 panel system is in a our adjacent field, leaving room to expand the system in the future to perhaps compensate for 100% of our electrical utility needs. Our estimated payback is expected in approximately 10-15 years.

We are generating approximately 58 kW of power, which is equivalent to 43% of our electrical power consumption. We have accumulated readings of up to 66% of our power being generated by our system in the months of April and May, 2010, and 54% this year.

Thus far we have produced equivalent to the energy to power 16 homes for 1year, or the energy to power 1,602 computers for 1 yr , or the energy to operate a TV for 1,447,664 hrs. We also have saved 359,520. lbs of CO2 greenhouse gases – the equivalent pollution an average passenger car emits over 36 yrs.

Lifetime of our solar system data states we have produced 44% of our consumption , which is very nice to know the calculations prior to installing the system proved to be correct.
Our utility usage is approx.$33,000/yr. With our solar production, we save over $14,000 annually towards this cost .

Environmentally, our system allows our local electrical service to avoid 76,000 lbs of carbon dioxide/yr, equivalent to 11 passenger cars for a year or annually planting over 1500 tree seedlings and growing them for 10 yrs. This will also allow reductions from the utility power annually of NOX @ 84 lbs and sulfur dioxide @200 lbs.

To help raise awareness , and promote education, a public video monitor at our entryway provides continually updated views of the systems output and information on the benefits of solar. We have also linked our web site to the data and output information in real time, as it happens, on our web page.

We are extremely excited about this endeavor , and even more so as we watch our compensation for utility power that is being generated with this pasture of power…

Our future plans are already in progress, by becoming more energy proficient with the help of“ Efficiency Vermont”, by upgrading to more energy efficient lighting in our main store and our adjacent “County Gifts and Furniture” store, entailing the replacement of over 75 fixtures, using 60% less energy. We installed 200 L.E.D replacements for florescent lighting tubes last year, from www.leddynamics.com {made in Vt !} LEDs are the most efficient light source known to mankind, next to the sun, lasting up to 100,000 hrs, 10x longer than conventional illumination, and 80% more energy efficient than standard lighting.

Dedicated to protecting the environment, it is our strategy to seek improvements throughout our business operations to minimize our impact on the local and global environment by conserving energy and other natural resources; reducing waste generation; recycling and purchasing recycled products; and reducing our use of toxic materials. We also give preference to suppliers whose products follow our strategy above.

Farm-way has also become a “Vermont Business Environmental Partner”, and is taking many steps to do our share in protecting the environment by recycling refuse materials with “zero sort”, upgrading our lighting to more energy efficient versions , using recycled paper, and practicing standard energy reductions in electricity usage.

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