The owner of a printing shop in Linden said his is the first business in the state to install wind turbines on a commercial roof, after overcoming roadblocks from a six-month approval process.
In 2011, after a short inspection from the town, it only took 60 days for Cox Printers President Mike Kaufman to receive approval to install about 8,000 square feet of solar panels on his business’s roof. But when he applied to install two Honeywell WindTronic 6500 wind turbines at the same location, the state wouldn’t recognize the project until Intertek Group, a nationally recognized turbine testing company, inspected the site.
“The law is there, but the codes aren’t written for these monsters yet,” Kaufman said. “The state probably still thinks we’re putting in a refinery in Linden. With wind energy, everyone pictures those monstrous turbines on the side of hills and in Atlantic City, but these turbines are only six feet in diameter, and they could easily go in someone’s backyard.”
According to Kaufman, there are advantages and disadvantages to both wind and solar power. While the solar panels can produce up to 36 kilowatts of energy a day, they cost Kaufman $95,000 to purchase and install, and they take up over a third of the 18,000-square-foot roof. Combined, the wind turbines cost $30,000 and only take up 200 square feet of space, but they are only estimated to save $200 a month in energy bills.
“The energy we’re getting from the wind turbines is not anything huge. It’s only partially powering our graphics department,” Kaufman said. “But unlike solar, it’s very steady, and that’s the key.”
To offset the costs of his solar investment, Kaufman depends on Jersey City-based Flett Exchange LLC’s platform to sell the solar renewable energy certificates generated by his system, for a profit of approximately $2.50 per megawatt-hour. But the popularity of the SREC program has introduced volatility into the market, as prices have plunged from a high of around $650 last year to around $150. Additionally, the solar panels are fulfilling only 10 percent of the company’s overall usage, so Kaufman said he’s more focused on lowering the company’s energy usage than increasing energy production to save money on his electricity bills. To do so, Kaufman swapped out 180 light fixtures for high-output, low-usage lighting.
“Another year down the line, I plan to create my own electric company for the building with more turbines and panels, and the energy they produce,” Kaufman said. “But a lot of our electric usage is still on the grid. It’s really up to Mother Nature how this goes.”