On Feb. 19 UPS said it is adding in more solar with two new 1.2 megawatt rooftop solar PV installations at its Parsippany and Secaucus locations in New Jersey. The former was completed last fall and the latter will be completed in Spring 2013. The shipping giant said it chose to go solar in New Jersey because the investment made sense there.
“The equipment and design was sourced directly by UPS,” said William Moir, UPS’s Facilities energy program manager. “The field installation was handled by local electrical or roofing firms through a competitive bid process.” UPS chose to own the systems outright rather than get them through a third-party lease or power purchase agreement. By choosing a direct ownership approach the company said it uncovered valuable best practices to produce a strong return on its investment in current and future developments. The company chose New Jersey as its test market because of the state’s incentives.
“Our efforts in New Jersey (which includes our first project in Lakewood, N.J.) have provided us standardized models for the three different mounting techniques we would expect to use on a UPS facility across the U.S.: direct connect, ballasted and standing seam metal roofs,” Moir said. The projects in New Jersey offered the company valuable information as UPS looks to install solar at other locations in the U.S. “All UPS facilities across the U.S. are part of our analysis. It’s a question of evaluating local operation, facility considerations, costs and incentives.”
The systems it installed at the New Jersey locations used domestically sourced high quality mono-crystalline PV panels, according to Moir. He explained that the company has used different mounting technologies to get a better idea of how it impacts costs. “Parsippany used an elevated direct connect mounting system with a 15 degree tilt, and the Secaucus facility used a ballasted system. Taking into consideration the efficiencies we learned in their development, $1.90 per watt to $2.15 per watt is a reasonable price range for what they would cost today, on those particular roofs. We continue to look for ways to drive the price down, while ensuring we are purchasing system capacity which we can effectively use for 25 to 30 years.”
Since UPS’ primary delivery business occurs during the 9-5 workday, the systems will produce the most when the buildings aren’t using as much energy as they do in the evenings and morning. “Generally speaking our ‘processing hours’ tend to be off peak, so during the afternoon hours our usage is down, and these systems will likely be sending power that UPS does not need into the grid. That time frame also tends to be the typical utilities peak demand time frame, especially during the summer months,” Moir said. Overall the systems will produce up to 35 percent of the facilities’ energy demand throughout the year.