Top Flight puts on roof largest allowable solar array

Top Flight puts on roof largest allowable solar array

April 30th, 2011 by Ellis Smith in Business Around the Region

Bobby Bowling looks at the pair of inverters that connect to Top Flight's solar array. Top Flight, a company that manufactures notebooks and paper goods, has a large array of solar panels on its rooftop. Staff photo by Jake Daniels/Chattanooga Times Free Press

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What: A 200 kilowatt-hour solar photovoltaic system on the roof of a warehouse and manufacturing facility in Chattanooga

Company: Top Flight Inc., a paper products manufacturer

Location: Top Flight's Chattanooga warehouse and manufacturing facility are on Central Avenue near downtown Chattanooga

How's it green: The system is the largest allowable under TVA's Generation Partners program. TVA will buy the excess power from the system. Solar power is the cleanest of all renewable energy technologies, with zero emissions.

Why do it this way? Inman Solar, a Chattanooga-based company, installed the solar panels using 25 local employees, the company said. The solar panels help offset higher demand during hot days, feeding extra power back into the grid.

What's the savings:

$50,000 per year, and the emissions equivalent of taking more than 35 cars off the roads. The electricity will save the region more than 156,000 gallons of water every year that can be consumed by traditional electricity generation. The amount of carbon the panels will save is equal to that absorbed annually by 40 acres of forest.

Advice for others:

"Top Flight gets a great investment that will increase in value as energy prices continue to increase," said Dan Fossitt, principal of Inman Solar. As the price of electricity goes up, the electricity generated by the solar panels will save the company more and more money over the life of the panels, so moving quickly toward solar is key.

Is environmentalism an essential part of the business: "Of course the investment had to make financial sense first and foremost," said Wejun Robinson, Top Flight general manager. "But we're excited to help our country address our dependency on fossil fuels. Solar is a better way to produce power."