In March, our Villa Rica Energy Center introduced a solar carport designed to give employees electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, while providing an additional power source to the plant. The eco-friendly carport features two EV stations and 66 solar panels, which can produce 20.79 kilowatts of electricity.
“On average, we produce approximately 120 kilowatt hours of energy per day from the carport,” said Jonathan Allen, electrical engineer. “That is enough energy to power two average-sized homes per day.”
According to Allen, the energy produced from the solar panels is fed directly to the plant and consumed. The plant then supplies power to the EV stations in the carport to charge the electric vehicles. While the solar panels are indirectly supplying power to the charging stations, the net cost to Southwire remains zero.
For Allen, the carport initiative ties directly into Southwire’s sustainability efforts by reducing the company’s environmental footprint. In addition, he believes the carport will also motivate employees to meet their own sustainability goals.
“By installing the solar panels, we have reduced our dependency on fossil fuels,” said Allen. “I believe the charging stations will give more employees an incentive to drive electric cars. The panels produce enough energy to fully charge four Nissan Leaf vehicles per day.”
Benefits of EV Stations
Employees have even begun to notice the benefits of having EV stations.
“The carport is really good,” said Michael Saturday, maintenance technician. “The carport will be a great convenience during the winter and summer seasons. This past winter, I had to either charge my car past 80 percent power or only run the defroster when absolutely necessary to be able to make it to work and back home.”
As the project manager, Allen helped obtain, design and build the carport. Allen sees the benefits of adding alternative energy sources to Southwire and thinks the carport could lead to additional Growing Green opportunities.
“Energy storage could also be very beneficial to Southwire because it can offset peak demand charges and eliminate power factor charges,” said Allen. “When a storage device is coupled to a solar installation, we can collect energy produced by the sun and use it as needed.”