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Peterborough

Solar expansion

Microspec Corporation: New installation coincides with business expansion in Peterborough

  • Microspec, a Peterborough company that designs medical device components, is going green with the addition of multiple solar panels onto its office on Route 202.
  • Microspec, a Peterborough company that designs medical device components, is going green with the addition of multiple solar panels onto its office on Route 202.
  • Microspec, a Peterborough company that designs medical device components, is going green with the addition of multiple solar panels onto its office on Route 202.
  • Microspec, a Peterborough company that designs medical device components, is going green with the addition of multiple solar panels onto its office on Route 202.
  • Microspec, a Peterborough company that designs medical device components, is going green with the addition of multiple solar panels onto its office on Route 202.
  • Microspec, a Peterborough company that designs medical device components, is going green with the addition of multiple solar panels onto its office on Route 202.
  • Microspec, a Peterborough company that designs medical device components, is going green with the addition of multiple solar panels onto its office on Route 202.
  • Microspec, a Peterborough company that designs medical device components, is going green with the addition of multiple solar panels onto its office on Route 202.

Sitting atop the Microspec Corporation building on Route 202 in Peterborough are four mounted solar panels, gleaming even in the pale winter sunlight. On the side of the building, another 36-module unit catches the sunlight from the south. The panels are all mounted in a new way to maximize their potential for generating electricity to be fed into the Microspec building and the grid.

Tim Steele, owner and CEO of Microspec, has had a long interest in solar energy. Last year, he invested in a 13-kilowatt solar panel system on the roof of his home in Hancock. Now, as Microspec expands into a previously rented office in the Microspec building, seemed the perfect opportunity to also make the building a little greener.

Steele contacted Greg Blake of South Pack Solar in Peterborough, whose company had installed the solar panels on Steele’s home, about putting solar panels on Microspec. Because there is tree cover on both sides of the building, located at 327 Jaffrey Road , ground mounted panels wouldn’t be ideal. But Blake decided to use a ground-mounted model to install the panels — attaching them to high-resistance poles on the sides of the building. Another set of panels is angled off the side of the building. Blake said he did not want to mount the panels on the roof of the building, which is older and wouldn’t be ideal for maximum energy production. The way the panels are mounted on top of wind-resistant poles isn’t conventional, noted Blake.

“We may have invented it,” said Blake.

The panels come at a cost — between $72,000 and $74,000, with another $20,000 for the wind-resistant mountings. The electricity generated means within 10 years the system will have paid for itself, said Blake. Over the course of the system’s 25-year lifespan, using current utility rates and factoring a rate of 2 percent inflation, it will save Microspec $330,000 in electricity costs.

“It’s real money and real environmental benefits,” said Blake.

Among those environmental benefits are the reduction of 470,000 pounds of coal use, 3,079 pounds of sulphur dioxide and 1,045 pounds of nitrogen oxide and 628,840 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere, according to Blake.

This is only the first phase in integrating environmentally friendly technology at Microspec, Steele said. Several years ago, Steele made it as far as the planning and design stages on a second building located farther back on the current Microspec lot, which was designed with integrated solar panels and geothermal technology. When the economy soured, Steele had to put the plans on hold, but business at Microspec has been booming in the past few years, and it may be time to revisit the plans, he said.

In the past month, the business — which creates medical tubing used by industries around the world — has added eight employees, bringing the total to 54. And the solar panels are part of an expansion to add 2,400 square feet to Microspec’s offices, moving into the space formerly occupied by Bard Chiropractic Office . If business continues as projected, Steele said Microspec could move on building a separate building on the same lot as the current Microspec offices as early as this year. If building plans do move forward, the number of solar panels the business employs will triple or even quadruple, Steele noted.

“I have a desire to leave the environment in a better place than when I arrived. I smile when I turn into the parking lot and see those panels,” said Steele. “I really hope that, in terms of being environmentally friendly, Microspec is becoming a leader in taking these steps in our area. And I hope that others follow that example.”

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaari.

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