Northern California rubble recycler now turning sunlight into power

In the hills between California’s famed Wine Country and streets of San Francisco lies the town of Cotati, home to one of the region’s largest rubble materials recycling plants. As careful stewards of the region’s natural resources, the The Soiland Company has been providing high quality aggregate materials, soil and compost products since 1973.

The company prides itself on incorporating sustainable business practices wherever possible and often as early adopters, including first installing solar nearly a decade ago and numerous other self-driven environmental measures and equipment upgrades throughout its 52 year history.

Environmental economics

The GPS-enabled trackers move with the sun, showing the Sunny Boy inverters mounted on each during mid-day.

The GPS-enabled trackers move with the sun, showing the Sunny Boy inverters mounted on each during mid-day.

In early 2014, the region’s electric utility went through a rate restructure and Soiland saw their bills double nearly overnight. With the unexpected rise in expenses, the company’s sustainability commitments met at an intersection of environmental stewardship and maintaining sound financials for their business; the time was right to install additional solar power.

North Coast Solar was brought in to install a 202kW system using 33 of AllEarth Renewables’ dual axis AllSun Trackers. The trackers, which produce up to 45 percent more energy than fixed systems, are each equipped with a Sunny Boy 6000-US inverter to allow for optimal site design and long-term system reliability.

In total, the site brought together the power of 792 ReneSola 255 modules over roughly two and a half acres to reduce the company’s electrical demands by more than half. System payback is expected within seven years, due in part to the increased production from the tracking system and the Sunny Boy’s 97 percent peak efficiency. This increase in Soiland’s return on their investment will further help the company’s long-term cash flow and reduce their exposure to future rate changes.

As the cost for traditional electricity continues to rise, solar is becoming an ideal solution for companies looking to mitigate portions of their operating expenses. Soiland’s investment in a top-quality system means it will produce clean energy for the next 20 years and beyond.

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