Officials break ground for Toledo Zoo solar projectWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Rudolph|Libbe Inc. broke ground Oct. 29 on a 2-megawatt solar array from which the Toledo Zoo will purchase enough power to supply approximately 30 percent of its electrical energy needs.
Rudolph|Libbe will design and build the solar project on a 22-acre brownfield site located between Spencer Street and the Anthony Wayne Trail, just south of the Toledo Zoo property. The project is scheduled for completion in early to mid-2014, according to company officials.
“This project is a great example of the public and private sectors working together to benefit the zoo and the community,” said Jason Slattery, director of solar for Rudolph|Libbe.
“We’re taking a contaminated brownfield site, which is a negative financial burden for the city and turning it into a positive for the City of Toledo and the Toledo Zoo. This is a huge win for our community,” Slattery said.
Rudolph|Libbe developed the project exclusively to provide a power purchase arrangement with the Toledo Zoo to help the zoo reduce its carbon footprint.
The 28,000-panel solar array will be among the largest in the nation to supply power to a zoo, according to the company. The ground-mounted solar system will contain no moving parts and will produce approximately 2.6 megawatt hours per year.
Buffer areas will be planted around the perimeter of the solar array and common areas with grasses native to Northwest Ohio.
The project will be built using Calyxo solar modules, which use innovative thin-film technology developed in Toledo. Nextronex Inc. of Toledo is providing inverters, combiner boxes and distributed architecture for the solar array. Alex Products, of Ridgeville Corners, is supplying steel racks for the solar modules.
GEM Inc., one of the Rudolph|Libbe companies, will perform licensed electrical work on the project.
Local union labor will construct the project, which will create about 60 construction jobs, according to Rudolph|Libbe.
“We employ many of the area’s most skilled dedicated and experienced trades’ workers. We’re proud to put them to work on this solar array,” Slattery said.
In 2010, Rudolph|Libbe designed and built the Toledo Zoo’s solar walk, using 1,400 solar panels along the perimeter of the zoo’s parking lot to the entrance. Last year, the solar walk generated 99,041 kilowatt hours of electricity for the Toledo Zoo’s operations.
Rudolph|Libbe Companies is ranked 105th among Solar Power World’s “Top 250 Solar Contractors in the U.S.” and 45th on the magazine’s “Top 50 Commercial Solar Contractors” list for 2013. The local contractor installed 2.2 megawatts in 2012 and 10 megawatts overall, according to company officials.
Rudolph|Libbe and GEM Energy solar projects also include phases four and five of the Ohio Air National Guard solar array at Toledo Express Airport, Camp Perry Ohio National Guard base solar array, the municipal solar array in Bryan, a combined heat and power system at ProMedica’s Wildwood campus and green data centers at the University of Toledo and Syracuse University.
“Our goal as a company is to help our customers achieve the best performance for their facilities and processes, and help them reduce the lifetime cost of those facilities and processes,” said Bill Rudolph, chairman of the Rudolph|Libbe companies.
“Energy is an increasingly important component of their business performance and their facility and process investments. We work to help our customers use and buy energy more efficiently, and when appropriate, help them generate energy more efficiently,” Rudolph said.
The combined Rudolph|Libbe Companies, including Rudolph|Libbe, GEM Inc. and GEM Energy, rank among the region’s largest contractors that employ nearly 1,500 construction trades people through offices in Walbridge, Lima, Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus and Detroit.
Rudolph cites national support for energy projects
Rudolph recently joined chambers of commerce representatives and business leaders from 14 states to discuss clean energy alternatives and efficiencies with legislators in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 3.
The group met with representatives and staff members of 11 different senators and U.S. representatives, including local representatives Bob Latta and Marcy Kaptur. The group’s discussion with federal lawmakers focused on the strong business case for energy efficiency and alternative energy projects.
Rudolph reported there is strong bipartisan support among federal lawmakers for energy efficiency and alternative energy projects upon returning from his recent trip to Washington, D.C.
“We saw good bipartisan support for the business case of energy efficiency and alternative energy projects. There is a compelling business case for the importance of energy efficiency to business performance,” Rudolph said.
“When you reduce your energy costs, you are able to invest more in your business. So, energy efficiency is an economic driver for the community as well as an environmental benefit,” he said.
Rudolph, who is a steering member of the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce solar initiative group, represented the Toledo Chamber and local business community.
The business delegation originally went to Washington, D.C., to attend a White House Roundtable on Clean Energy and Regional Business Competitiveness scheduled for Oct. 3, but the roundtable was canceled due to the government shutdown.
However, the business leaders were able to meet with senators and representatives about the same issues that were to be addressed at the roundtable. There is no information about any rescheduling of the roundtable that was part of National Energy Awareness Month in October.
“It’s important that our legislators know what’s happening in their districts. It will take time to create public policies that make it more cost-efficient to invest in alternative energy and energy efficiency, so these were important meetings. We look forward to having further conversations and opportunities to help advocate for energy efficiency,” Rudolph said.
Representatives of three chambers from Ohio, including Toledo and Van Wert County, joined colleagues from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and several other states scheduled to attend the roundtable. The trip was organized by the Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy, which has more than 400 chamber members from across the U.S.
“The chambers see the importance of energy efficiency and renewable energy for the success of business and job creation,” Rudolph said.