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KEZW Goes Green with Solar
Ordinances limit the amount of power a home or business can produce on its own. Installations are typically limited to producing 120 percent of the typical consumption. Surplus power created by the array is sold back to the power company, albeit at a lower rate than what the power company will sell power to the user. The generating limitation is designed to keep individuals from becoming stand-alone power utilities. KEZW's overall system can produce nearly 100kW of electrical power. A typical home system would generate about 5kW.
Because the system can generate a surplus of power, there are two electrical power meters at the site. One shows the power consumed from the power company. The other shows the surplus solar power returned to the electrical grid.
While only a few months of data have been collected, Ken Beck, VP of technical operations and NTS programming for Entercom, says the electrical cost savings over the summer was about 67 percent. He is awaiting a full year's use data to get an annual savings. In the end, the solar array has eliminated 1,963,812 pounds of carbon from being added to the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels.
While the solar array can't completely eliminate the station's need for commercial power -- solar panels aren't very effective by moonlight -- it has obviously helped KEZW's bottom line. Some of the capital costs have been offset by state and federal incentives. An exact break-even point of having the system pay for itself isn't known yet. Once a full year of data is collected, it may be possible to determine that. But much of this effort wasn't made simply for the bottom line, Entercom's interest in sustainability and a reduced carbon footprint is just as important.
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