An equine nutritional supplement manufacturer made a landmark decision to run on renewable energy.
Dr. Frank Gravlee, founder of Life Data Labs, took a new measure to increase the company’s environmental sustainability as he activated the company’s new field of solar panels on March 23, the Times Daily reports. The panels can fully power Life Data Labs’ manufacturing operations whenever the sun is out.
The solar farm takes up an acre at the company headquarters, consisting of 855 solar panels measuring 3 feet wide by nearly 6 feet tall. The system has a rating of 282 kW for direct electrical current, 236 kW for alternating current.
The Cherokee, Ala.-based Life Data Labs’ move to solar power is not their first step toward energy efficiency, though it may be their largest. The heating and air conditioning at the company, as well as the motors and compressors they use for manufacturing, are also highly efficient.
According to Matthew Holt, information technology director at Life Data Labs, the choices are no coincidence.
“It’s basically part of our company culture and the way Dr. Frank goes,” Holt told the Times Daily.
Gravlee decided to bring solar panels to Life Data Labs after his return from a trip where he learned about solar power.
The company’s move to solar power is not insignificant. Forest Wright, executive director of the Shoals Economic Development Authority, called the decision “a pretty aggressive and progressive move on their part.” According to Wright, no other business in the area is using solar power in the same capacity.
Steve Hargrove, Sheffield Utilities general manager, also noted the novelty of the company’s solar power use, saying that Life Data Labs representatives began discussing the project with the company around 2 years ago.
“Solar power is pretty new for this area,” says Hargrove.
Life Data Labs remains tied to the grid of the Tennessee Valley Authority and Sheffield Utilities, as the solar farm is only able to produce power during the day while the sun is present. When the panels produce more electricity than the company needs, the power is sold back to the TVA.
Still, solar power benefits companies beyond reducing environmental impact—including financially.
“I think with the cost of equipment coming down,” says Wright, “I think I think it will be even more cost efficient.”
The change can also attract customers who prefer environmentally friendly businesses. Life Data Labs’ solar power use sets a precedent in the area.
“We’re getting a lot more calls more calls about it,” says Hargrove of other customers served by Sheffield Utilities.