South Milford business is powered by the sun

February 1st, 2017

KPC News - The News Sun

Since October, Wible Lumber Inc. has been using the sun to power its operations — and in some cases powering others.

The South Milford manufacturer of hardwood lumber, mouldings and edge-glued panels is using a a large array of solar panels to generate 1 megawatt of electricity. The system that includes more than 3,000 solar panels is expected to save the business in excess of $162,000 each year, according to a news release issued Tuesday by Renewable Energy Systems LLC of Avilla, which engineered and installed it.

Wible Lumber owners Dennis Nowels and David Wible chose to install the solar system to reduce operating costs and to help the environment. Engineering for the project began in 2015, with construction starting in spring 2016 and ending in October.

According to Renewable Energy Systems, the system at Wible Lumber is the largest net metering installation tied into Northern Indiana Public Service Co.’s power distribution network.

The first phase of the project involved mounting more than 660 panels to the south-facing roofs of six large storage buildings. The roof-mounted solar arrays can generate a maximum of 214,000 watts, according to Renewable Energy Systems.

The second phase of the project comprised putting panels on ground-mounted arrays. Pilings were installed for 2,400 solar panels that can generate more than 782,000 watts.

The project was large enough that utility-grade solar panels and inverters were used, Renewable Energy Systems said. The system includes revenue grade meters that allow Wible Lumber to sell its excess power on the Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) market.

Renewable Energy Systems said the system installed at Wible Lumber will last more than 30 years and generate more than 39 million kilowatt-hours of power over its lifetime. The clean, renewable solar energy generated by the system is expected to offset 650 tons of carbon dioxide each year.

Wible Lumber started as a sawmill in the 1920s. Over time, the company has expanded operations to service multiple woodworking markets, including its own retail hardwood store where customers can pick out their own species of lumber.

In keeping with its green philosophy, Wible Lumber also has expanded its kiln-drying capacity by using a central boiler system that burns chips and sawdust generated by its own machines. The recycled materials are used as fuel to dry the hardwoods, saving the business thousands of dollars a month in natural gas.

Renewable Energy Systems, which was founded in 2008, specializes in engineering and installing solar power-generating systems for residential, commercial, agricultural and industrial applications.