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From left, Iowa Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, Larry Steffen, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Eagle Point Solar and Dave Buchheit, vice president of operations at FarmTek, talk during FarmTek’s unveiling of a new solar energy array Nov. 10.

A partnership between two area businesses is slated to curb over 10,000 tons of CO2 emissions while also saving a Dyersville company millions in energy costs.

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony held at FarmTek, a division of Engineering Services & Products Co., Nov. 10, nearly 100 gathered for the unveiling of a massive solar array project located atop a building on the northwest portion of their campus.

The new solar array is just another piece of a sustainability puzzle the company has been putting together since they located to Dyersville.

“We recognized a long time ago that energy was a limited resource that needed to be managed like any other business cost,” Dave Buchheit, vice president of Engineering Services & Products Co., said.

Even in the late 1990s when green energy was far less common than it is today, they heated some of their first buildings with geothermal. In 2010 when they added another enormous building, it too was powered by geothermal.

Buchheit said they have consistently been searching for innovative ways to reduce energy costs while promoting sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint, and this project is helping to accomplish that ultimate goal.

The $600,000 project consists of 1,024 7’x’3 panels in total and is set to produce 572,674 kWh during its first year, saving FarmTek approximately $50,000 per year in energy costs.

Over a 25-year span, those savings are expected to reach nearly $2.5 million while compensating for 10,853 tons of CO2, which is equal to planting 272,690 trees.

While the solar array was obviously a big step, Buchheit said there are several large announcements that will be revealed in the coming months and advised everyone in the audience to “stay tuned.”

To help realize their energy goals, FarmTek partnered with Eagle Point Solar, of Dubuque, who realized out of the gate this project was going to be an undertaking.

“We knew this was going to be a significant project and we knew that we had to have a solar array that was going to produce nearly 600,000-kilowatt hours of electricity,” Larry Steffen, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Eagle Point Solar, said.

The project took seven months to complete, with most of that being consumed by design work. With future expansion in mind, Eagle Point built the array at 110% of their annual kilowatt-hour consumption to compensate for that.

With the amount of energy the array is capable of producing, Steffen said it could power 60 homes or charge 1.2 billion cell phones.

Also on hand to celebrate the occasion was Iowa Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, who noted that this array represents the latest example of Iowa’s commitment to renewable energy.

“You might not know it, but Iowa is number one in renewable energy — that’s a commitment that started at least as far back as 1983 when Iowa was one of the first states to adopt a renewable portfolio standard which said that utility companies need to have some of their energy coming from renewable sources,” Gregg said.

Gregg said that commitment has since grown in a variety of ways, including Iowa’s status as the largest producer of ethanol and biodiesel as well as leading the nation in wind energy consumption and budding hydroelectric infrastructure.

“On nearly every front, when it comes to renewable energy, we are leading the way and today is just the latest example of that,” Gregg said, adding that businesses are largely making that push. “Iowa can’t follow through on its commitment to renewable energy without businesses being willing to step up, buy-in and make the investment.”

Environmental consciousness aside, Gregg said the expansion of renewable energy capabilities is also helping Iowa to attract more businesses.

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the competitive advantage our leadership in renewable energy gives us when it comes to economic development,” Gregg said.

Gregg said it is often the case that a business or manufacturer’s biggest expense is energy and, by providing a low-cost option, that makes Iowa an attractive place to start or relocate.

“On top of that, companies are always looking at how to improve their carbon footprint – if we can provide renewable energy options for them, that again gives us a competitive advantage,” Gregg said. “That’s a huge thing for us as we continue to grow our state and provide economic opportunities for our people.”