Dykes Lumber Installs Remote Net-Metered Solar Array in New York
Dykes Lumber’s rooftop solar installation in Long Island City is near the Queensboro Bridge.
Photo Credit: Steve Burns, EnterSolar
Dykes Lumber Company incorporates the sun across its business. The lumber and building materials company has been serving New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania for more than 100 years. Aside from depending on sun to help grow trees for lumber, the company had started to use the sun to power two locations in New Jersey (Aberdeen and Weehauken). Dykes wanted to further cut costs associated with energy-consuming operations such as electric wood-cutting saws and chargers for forklifts that are used to transport materials in the warehouse and onto trucks. They also wanted to reduce dependence on electricity derived from fossil fuels. In 2012, Dykes looked into installing a photovoltaic (PV) system to run its New York City locations too.
Dykes has three locations in New York City: Brooklyn, Manhattan and Long Island City (LIC). Solar works best on a big roof with nothing that could cast shadows and block the sunlight. In many parts of New York City, shadows abound, roof space is limited, and even if companies own their work space, they do not usually own the roof on that building.
For those reasons, Dykes could not install a solar array to directly power their locations in Brooklyn or the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan. However, their LIC location had a roof large enough to support more solar panels than they needed for their operations. LIC can produce 152% of the power that they use, so Dykes Lumber became one of the first solar projects in New York State to use remote net metering through ConEdison. Now, excess power production at LIC is credited to the Brooklyn location to offset all usage and the remainder is credited to the Manhattan location.
EnterSolar designed and New Generation installed all three of the solar projects for Dykes Lumber. Steve Burns, project manager for EnterSolar, said that the LIC installation took about five weeks in total. He added that the electric supply to the building was only shut down for one day, which was scheduled for a Sunday when Dykes is closed, so as not to interrupt business.
As a former post office, the LIC structure was capable of supporting the 770 solar panels set at a five-degree tilt, but a fully ballasted rack was used to avoid any complications that might arise with drilling into the roof of an older building. A step-down transformer had to be installed to reconcile the 480-volt output of the PV system with the 208-volt electrical system in the building. (Most large commercial buildings have 480-volt wiring, but many older buildings, especially in New York City, have 208-volt electrical systems.)
The project used the New York City Solar Property Tax Abatement, Federal Investment Tax Credit and NYSERDA funding under the NY-Sun Initiative to offset a significant percentage of the installation cost.
The PV system at the LIC location has a total capacity of 196 kilowatts (DC) and has been operating effectively since December 2012. The system is expected to produce more than 5.4 million kilowatt hours of clean energy over the next 25 years, which is enough energy to power more than 30 average U.S. homes for the same time period, according to EnterSolar.
Dykes Lumber now has 750 kilowatts of solar capacity deployed over three of its 11 locations. Charles Kreyer, president of Dykes Lumber, was quite pleased with the operational and financial performance of the two solar installations in New Jersey. He said, “We are excited to now have completed our first solar project in New York. These systems make tremendous sense for Dykes from both a financial and environmental perspective.”
Beyond nourishing growing trees, the sun has also helped Dykes Lumber generate electricity, reduce operational costs, and become a leader in generating clean energy.