MiVT: Solaflect Energy
NORWICH, Vt. (WCAX) - Always looking at the bright side-- that’s what makes the Solaflect Energy sun tracker different than the average solar panel.
“We know where the sun is going to be for the next 10,000 years. It just programs in and knows where to point," said Bill Bender, the president of Solaflect Energy.
These trackers take in about 40% more energy by following the sun, and they do it with 1,000 tons less steel.
“We use cables just like a suspension bridge. It’s much more efficient than a truss bridge. You can have a Golden Gate suspension bridge, you can’t have a Golden Gate truss bridge. By using the same kind of engineering, we use a set of suspension cables to hold up solar modules on a tracker and get rid of a very large amount of steel," he explained.
Based in Norwich, Solaflect Energy installs trackers all over Vermont, New Hampshire and now, Massachusetts and California.
They patented the sun-tracking design, after winning $2M in awards from the U.S. Department of Energy.
“Nationally, there’s almost no ground-mounted solar for the residential market. But in our home market where we started selling first thing in 2013, we’re actually 50% of all solar. So competing against all other rooftop companies, we’re half the market there," said Bender.
After a federal rebate, these low-maintenance units cost anywhere from $16,000 to $21,000, but with free electric, the unit pays for itself in about 10 years.
And despite having free electric once it’s paid off, kids love them for different reasons.
“We have a lot of customers, dozens and dozens of customers that actually name their machine. Apollo, anything from Helios to George," said Bender.
But these trackers are anything but Greek.
With their steel manufactured in St. Johnsbury, control boards made in Springfield and trackers assembled in Norwich, Bender says this as Vermont-made solar as solar gets.
“For any dollar spent on solar in Vermont, we’re sure that we’re the highest percentage of that money that stays in Vermont of any other solar company because we’re very proud of that a very high percentage of what we do is actually done right here in Vermont," said Bender.
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