Stuart Jet Center Powering Up With Solar

Monday, May 21, 2012

Powering Up With Solar
By Paul Ivice
Photo Provided by Stuart Jet Center  
Already equipped  with one of the Largest solar arrays on the Treasure Coast, owners of the Stuart Jet Center are planning an even bigger installation.
The array of 223 solar panels, which have a 53 kilowatt peak output, went online with Florida Power & Electric in mid-March, said Dan Capen, president of Stuart Jet Center.
Capen and his partner have owned the Stuart Jet Center since
2001, but the Capen family has been servicing aircraft at Witham
Field since 1979. The Stuart Jet Center operates on land leased from Martin County and is one of two of the airport's fixed-base operators. About 100 employees of Stuart Jet and their lessee companies provide services for private aircraft at the county airport.
The existing array was installed on the roof of a maintenance hangar, but will provide power to two other adjacent hangars and an office building.
Capen said he started with those buildings, which total 30,000 square feet, because maintenance hangars have the highest energy consumption per square foot. That group of buildings represents about 20 percent of the jet center's power consumption.
The jet center will receive credit from FP&L for whatever power the array generates that isn't used and is fed into the grid. It is too soon to know what the average output of the solar array will be, though peak production
in the summer months will really tell the tale, he said. "It will be interesting to see what the first bill comes in at," he said.
Capen said his company spent more than $200,000 for the installation, none of it public funds, though he hopes to eventually obtain some state or federal tax credits or other incentives.
John Bucher, vice president of sales at Peak Solar LLC, the Hillsborough Beach company that sold the array, predicted it would pay for itself within seven years.
Bucher said he has sold larger systems to customers in Pennsylvania and Haiti, but it's the largest array Peak Solar has sold in Florida. He said he thinks it's the largest customer-owned array in the state.
According to Capen, the motivation for installing the array was to find "new ways to cut overhead," but the long-term goal is to make the jet center energy independent.
Capen said he considered installing a solar array a few years ago, "but the technology of solar panels wasn't yet to the point of it being cost­ effective."
Capen said his partner, Dick Schmidt, "is big with going green and looking to the future, not staying stagnant."
The Stuart Jet Center has plans to build a new 24,000-square-foot hangar at the west end of the center, currently in the permitting phase, which may also be fitted with solar panels and other green technologies, possibly including wind turbines. That solar array would supply power to the new hangar, an adjacent two-story office building and the main terminal.
'We  run a lot of battery-operated equipment so we're looking at hooking up chargers to the next phase," he said.
"It's just going to depend on what the output is from this system," Capen said. "That will determine the size and the cost."
While Capen said, "We'd like to have the majority (of the center) energy independent," he also said he will proceed cautiously because of the fast pace of improvements in solar technology.
Posted: May 21, 2012
From The TC Palm Newspaper

« return