Case study: Interstate Packaging adds big rooftop solar array

Published June 8, 2018

Interstate Packaging in White Bluff, TN, with over 1,000 solar panels

Since 1969, Interstate Packaging has been partnering with its customers to produce innovative packaging concepts & help build brand recognition. Almost 50 years later, the family-owned business in White Bluff, Tennessee, is now the site of a brand new 300 kilowatt (kW) solar PV system. Adding to an existing 50kW for a total of 350kW, Interstate Packaging has one of the largest rooftop solar arrays in the state.

“We decided to fill up our roof with panels when we thought the cost of solar could not go any lower,” says Interstate Packaging Owner Michael Doochin. “We use a lot of energy, so we are very pleased to be making some of our own power,” he says.

LightWave Solar installed the new 300kW system to offset existing electricity usage. The system will reduce Interstate Packaging’s electric costs by about $25,000 annually. in addition to the savings of their other solar arrays and energy upgrades.

Interstate Packaging has a history of investing in their facility to reduce costs and make the company as environmentally sustainable as possible. Facility improvements include motion-activated & LED lighting, geothermal HVAC units, the total elimination of all routine hazardous waste products, and a closed-loop solvent processing and recycling system, just to name a few. Interstate Packaging even has beehives, and their campus is certified as an arboretum by the TN Urban Forestry Council.

“Since we started the business, we have expanded the building many times, “says Doochin. “With every expansion, we think about ways to innovate, reduce waste, and be thoughtful members of the White Bluff community,” he says.

LightWave Solar designed the solar system to maximize the available roof space, which has many vents, skylights and heating and cooling equipment. Since some of this equipment casts shadows, we left enough room to avoid shading the solar panels as well as to allow easy maintenance of HVAC equipment.

“The system design and installation went very smoothly and fit our tight time table,” says Doochin.

Since Interstate Packaging is a rural small business, LightWave Solar helped the company apply for a USDA REAP grant which covers up to 25% of solar project costs. We expect USDA to approve the grant award next month. In addition, Interstate Packaging will claim the 30% Investment Tax Credit as well as MACRS Accelerated Depreciation.

The new tax code allows for the depreciation benefit to be claimed in the first year, and it totals about 18% of project costs. Combining the tax credit and depreciation, business owners can see 48% of project costs recouped through tax savings in the first year! Add in a USDA REAP grant, and up to 73% of project costs could be recovered!

Contact LightWave Solar to discover if a similar solar project can work well for your business or organization.