Issue: August 2009
Shooting the Breeze
Thinking about a wind turbine for your company? Make sure to run the numbers.
Pearl Road Auto Parts and Wrecking in Cleveland and Eagle Creek Wholesale in Mantua have their obvious differences. One recycles carbon-emitting cars into ball bearings, and the other grows oxygen-producing plants for gardeners. But both share a common love for green â€” the sustainability movement and the color of money. Taking advantage of state and federal grants, these companies have both erected wind turbines to help power their operations, with an expected return on their investment in six to eight years.
||Eagle Creek Wholesale,
John Bonner, general manager
||Pearl Road Auto Parts,
Jon Kaplan, vice president
||160 feet, 50-kw, made in Colorado with another coming in November
||140 feet, 120-kw, refurbished European model
|Why go green?
||About four years ago, the price of natural gas spiked about $15.We decided to look into alternative energy to remove the guesswork with fluctuations of natural gas and oil, says Bonner. So Eagle Creek added a biomass system that burns recycled wood products and manure, which heats the greenhouse,and a second wind turbine is in the works. That will take care of 60 to 80 percent of our electrical needs, he says.
||The money savings on my electric bill, sighs Kaplan, who had a wind study conducted on the property to determine if there was enough wind for a turbine. But he says there are other advantages, too: definitely going to be an advertising plus.
|How much time and money did it take?
||Less than a year and $250,000. With the new tax credit in Ohio, 75 percent of the cost could be covered. We saved 25 [percent] doing things ourselves, says Bonner.
||About two years and $300,000. With the help of the grant, the government is helping me up to $150,000, says Kaplan.
|Risk vs. reward
||You may be spending a lot of capital you don't need to spend, says Bonner. But if your intention is the ideology of being green, you're going to achieve that. Whoever takes the biggest risk up front takes the brunt of it sometimes, too.
||You could buy a turbine too big or too small for your property, says Kaplan. Obviously, the reward is I'm not using fossil fuels to run my equipment anymore.
|Best advice for other (gre)entrepreneurs
||Identify the pitfalls, says Bonner. Understand the efficiency of the turbines. It's also important to do your homework on the state and federal legislation. Be aware of what's available, dollars and sense-wise, to you to make the economics work.
||Make sure you have the electric bill to support a turbine, says Kaplan. A $400-a-month electric bill won't produce the kind of payback you're looking for. Find out when you can start reaping a reward for it.
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