Solar panels on roof

15 Jun STORBOX Self Storage in Pasadena Is Nearly 100% Self-Sufficent

By Alex Hassel, Storage.com

When it comes to electricity, STORBOX Self Storage and The Wine Grotto in Pasadena, Calif., are almost completely self-sufficient. The Pasadena Star-News reports that Brett Barnard, owner of the adjoined businesses, had 744 solar panels installed on the building’s roof, making it the largest commercially-used solar array in Pasadena.

Barnard’s facility is about 200,000 square feet. Aside from self storage, 5,000 square feet is leased for office space and 13,000 square feet is used for The Wine Grotto.

The solar array brings in 230 kilowatts of power, which is enough to supply nearly 100% of the building’s energy requirements. California Solar completed the work in early May 2016. Although electric bills won’t be as much of a concern for Barnard, the solar system came at a hefty price.

“The total cost of the panels and installation was about $515,000,” Barnard told the Pasadena Star-News. “But I had also had the wrong kind of roofing system, so I had to put a whole different kind of roofing in. That cost me another $240,000, so the total was about $755,000.”

“Brett was also smart to do the new roofing system,” said Will Breiholz, owner of California Solar. “UV light is what kills your roof, and if you have a solar system that will last 35 to 40 years, you don’t want to put that on top of a roof that might last another ten years. He replaced his old roof with a single-ply roof that’s white and made out of a vinyl kind of material that you roll down. It’s a synthetic material that’s kind of like PVC, and it lasts forever.”

For Barnard, some financial assistance came from city, state, and federal incentive programs. “It takes a fair amount of effort to learn about this, and we shopped around and looked at ten to 12 different installers,” he said. “The federal government is offering a 30% tax credit, so the installation costs were covered, and the city also has an incentive program that pays you back for solar production.”

The program is part of the Pasadena Solar Initiative. Its goal is to help Pasadena Water & Power customers bring in 14 megawatts of solar power by 2017 through rebates, incentives, and education. The city’s website says it will offer the incentives to customers “on a first-come-first-served basis until the total rated generating capacity used by the eligible customer-owned generators exceeds 5% of PWP’s system peak demand.”

Barnard already has more plans for the future. “We’re planning to expand that with 70 more panels on a new building. It will be a 43,600-square-foot building that will have five levels, three above ground and two below ground.” Once that’s finished Barnard wants to install a battery system into the network.

“This is a new trend,” Breiholz explained. “When a business turns on its air conditioning or other equipment, that can cause a spike in energy use. Utility companies check their meters every 15 minutes, and whatever the peak use was is what they’ll charge someone for the month, even if they don’t get nearly that high for the rest of the month.”

Breiholz added that the battery power would kick in during those peak times to prevent Barnard’s facility from using the city’s power. The battery could also keep the facility running in the event of a disaster.

For any self storage operators in California considering installing a solar array themselves, Brad Heavner, Policy Director for the California Solar Energy Industries Association, told the Pasadena Star-News that self storage buildings are great locations.

“It would be great because they could charge someone to use the space on their roof,” Heavner said. “About 3% of the total residents and businesses in California have solar power.”

Alex Hassel is News Reporter for Storage.com. If you’d like to pitch Alex a self storage industry news story, email [email protected] or call 402-779-7328.



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