Holcim’s Portland cement plant is the first in the United States to use solar panels to help provide power to the plant, company officials say.
Project Manager Ryan Trujillo said after a year and a half of planning and three months of installation, the solar panels are providing power to a substation at the plant and the plant consumes all the energy the panels can produce.
A total of 528 solar panels produce an estimated 156,201kW/hr of power – enough to power the administrative offices or the equivalent of the power consumed by 14 homes.
The benefit to the environment is that the solar power prevents an estimated 301,000lbs of carbon dioxide emissions per year, said John Todd, Holcim general manager.
"For us, this is a great moment that shows our dedication to renewable energy," Todd said during an open house ceremony Thursday. "Considering it is a dismal (snowy) day, we are still producing power."
Dan Smith of Black Hills Energy said Holcim is the first among the utility company’s industrial customers to install solar panels.
"Holcim is our biggest customer. They consume 10 per cent of the total electrical load," Smith said.
The solar panel project is just a piece of what the company is trying to do to avoid adding to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change issues, said Jason Morin, former plant manager who now serves as vice president of environmental and government affairs for the corporation.