Custom injection molder Tri Town Precision Plastics Inc. has taken steps in the past to cut its energy costs. But the installation of a new solar photovoltaic system on its roof is by far its biggest step forward, providing both a cost savings and a greener footprint.
``This is certainly our biggest green undertaking, but it's not our first by any stretch,'' Bob Brinkerhoff, plant manager at the Deep River, Conn.-based company, said in a Jan. 8 telephone interview.
The system was designed and installed by Gloria Spire Solar LLC of Bedford, Mass., with the help of local company Essex Commercial Construction. It is estimated that the solar system will save Tri Town more than $1 million over 30 years and pay for itself in less than six years.
The system costs about $1.7 million, but nearly half is being paid for with a $776,567 grant from the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund. The company also will earn a federal tax credit.
``Gloria Spire showed us that solar energy could be attractive as a stand-alone investment one that would give us a good financial return on a par with investments that we could make in more obvious areas such as new manufacturing equipment,'' Tri Town President Scott Goodspeed said in a news release.
The Tri Town system, according to Brinkerhoff, passed its trial run and is awaiting final inspection. It should be running by the end of the month. The system has 1,254 solar modules or panels and occupies 23,000 square feet of roof. It will produce about 248,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year.
The system will save the company the cost of about 6 percent of its energy bill, Brinkerhoff said. He said that the benefit is that the electricity will be used before drawing off the local utility.
``The energy is totally invisible to us. It will show that we didn't use too much electricity and there is near zero maintenance,'' he added.
Tri-Town employs 140 and runs 35 injection presses. It offers tooling, prototyping, manufacturing and secondary services, as well as assembly.
The last six presses installed at the facility have been all-electric and are part of the effort to save on utility costs, Brinkerhoff said. As well, Tri Town has installed about 100,000 square feet of high-efficiency lighting, as well as energy-saving compressors.
The company also will take part in a New England energy program called ISO New England, where in exchange for a payment it will reduce energy usage in times of emergency.
Brinkerhoff said the investment was not something the company took lightly, but after carefully considering the numbers, the move did make sense, even for a conservative company.
Gloria Spire Solar is a joint venture between Gloria Solar Ltd. of Taiwan and Spire Corp., a Bedford-based supplier of photovoltaic equipment.