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Advancing Utah's Energy Future

Utah company installs 4.4-acre solar system

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SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah company has installed a 4.4-acre solar panel system to both reduce their energy costs and their carbon footprint.

“When you look at your energy costs and they’re so high you wonder how you can move them the other way,” said Jeff Burton, Co-owner of Burton Lumber, a building material supply company.

Burton said the company was paying anywhere from $150,000 to $200,000 a year on their energy costs. Their energy manager, a long-time proponent of renewable energy, found a solution.

“This project is 642 kilowatts. It’s about 2,700 solar panels,” said Brok Thayn, Energy Department Manager with Hunt Electric.

Over a year and a half, Hunt Electric designed and built the state’s largest privately owned solar array. It will cost Burton Lumber $2 million, but the company expects to pay it off within the next four years.

“This system is 4.4 acres and offsets 75 percent of Burton Lumber’s power bill,” Thayn said.

To put in perspective the impact of a solar system, the one at Burton Lumber is equivalent to not using more than 68,568 gallons of gas a year and removing 1,348,412 pounds of Carbon Dioxide from the air.

“When a lumber yard can actually give back to the environment, we’re known as the guys cutting trees down when we can give back that makes sense,” Burton said.

The only problem Burton Lumber has run into so far is when it snows. Then they have to clear off the panels before they’ll begin producing energy again.