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Webster Post
  • Renewable Rochester installs solar power electric system

  • Saving nearly $200,000 in electric bills over 30 years, while slashing carbon emissions by 50,000 pounds each year is enough to make anybody smile, but that isn’t the only thing that’s making Shawn Lessord happy these days. Lessord, senior project manager of Renewable Rochester, a Webster-based distributor of solar energy systems, says silencing skeptics can be a lot of fun, too.

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  • Saving nearly $200,000 in electric bills over 30 years, while slashing carbon emissions by 50,000 pounds each year is enough to make anybody smile, but that isn’t the only thing that’s making Shawn Lessord happy these days. Lessord, senior project manager of Renewable Rochester, a Webster-based distributor of solar energy systems, says silencing skeptics can be a lot of fun, too.
    Renewable Rochester has just completed installation of a new, 43 kilowatt, solar power electric system on its own corporate headquarters at 780 Ridge Road. Consisting of over 140 solar modules, it is one of the largest solar systems in the Rochester area, according to Lessord, who notes that the company is now in the process of installing a similar system at its Fairport facility.
    “One hundred percent of our electricity is now generated by the rooftop panels,” says Lessord of the system which went online in the beginning of July. “In the first two weeks of operation the system saved us about $1,000 in electric costs while at the same time reducing our carbon footprint by over five thousand pounds of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to not driving a standard car for 5,200 miles.”
    The efficiency of the new installation can be monitored on the company’s website, renewablerochester.com. The site tracks, minute by minute, the kilowatt hours produced by the system; calculates the reduced emissions, and translates that figure into the impact on the environment.
    Still, despite all the graphs and the data, selling the concept of solar power in one of the cloudiest U.S. cities can be a challenge, admits Lessord.
    “There are a lot of misconceptions out there,” he said.
    One of the biggest myths, he says, is that solar panels can only be installed on roofs facing south. “An east or westward facing roof will only reduce production by 6 or 10 percent.”
    The biggest rap against the solar power industry has always been that the panels are expensive and the process to manufacture them is not environmentally friendly.
    Lessord says new technology is addressing those concerns.
    “Reducing energy costs and protecting our planet are huge priorities right now and a lot of effort is going into producing systems that are affordable and not harmful to the environment.”
    Last year’s unusually mild winter, coupled with this summer’s record number of sunny days has convinced a lot of people that solar power can be viable even in upstate New York, says Lessord.
    “Ten years ago this area was selling only about two to three photo voltaic, or solar panel systems a year, now the figure is close to 50 systems per year.”
    Federal and state grants for solar installations are helping boost that number. Lessord says that, after government incentives and tax credits, a $30,000 solar system may end up costing about $8,000.
    Page 2 of 2 - Formed only 18 months ago, Renewable Rochester is a division of the Viola Group of Webster, which includes Viola Homes and Viola Storage. In addition to installing solar energy systems for commercial and residential use, Renewable Rochester offers a program called “Solar Schools,” a specially equipped trailer which travels to schools as part of an effort to educate schoolchildren about the need for sustainable energy.
     
     

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