A 100% solar-powered quarry

BoDean Company Plant at Mark West model of 'sustainability'

[caption id="attachment_33808" align="alignright" width="288" caption="Some 3,444 solar panels were installed at the Mark West Quarry capable capable of producing 1,165 megawatts of clean energy annually."][/caption]

SANTA ROSA -- The BoDean Company aggregate and asphalt supplier is going 100 percent solar-powered, the first to do so in the world, according to the industry magazine Rock Products.

BoDean will mark the occasion with an official cutover ceremony on May 11 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the company’s Mark West Quarry located at 4611 Porter Creek Road.

A total of 3,444 solar panels were installed on a restored slope at the quarry. The system as a whole is capable of generating 1.165 megawatts of green energy annually.

[caption id="attachment_33809" align="alignleft" width="360" caption="General Manager Bill Williams (left), owners Dean and Belinda Soiland and project manager Charlie Young in front of solar panels at the Mark West Quarry."][/caption]

Electricity produced by solar panels at the Mark West Quarry will offset the release of 1,844,521 pounds of CO2 per year, or the equivalent of driving 2,494,595 miles in an average car, quarry officials said.

To offset this level of yearly emissions would require the planting of 5,592 trees a year. Such emissions would be equal to the annual energy usage of 160 typical residential homes in the U.S.

The company has an ongoing commitment to sustainability. In 2006, when BoDean moved to its new headquarters at 1060 N. Dutton Ave. in Santa Rosa, management decided to place solar panels on the office roof. In addition, several managers have solar arrays on their homes.

Northgate Ready Mix, BoDean in partnershipMay 9, 2011

WINDSOR -- Founded in July of 2003, Northgate Ready Mix concrete is partnering with the BoDean Company’s line of local sustainable rock, gravel and sand products.

While other quarry operators may have solar providing a portion of their energy needs, BoDean elected to take advantage of currently available incentives to go 100 percent solar at one of the firm’s locations.

Company’s founders Belinda and Dean Soiland would like to see all of their company’s operations solar powered.

“It was a perfect storm with several factors converging to make this possible,” said Dean Soiland, president of the BoDean Company. “We have been dedicated to a sustainability program and eco-efficiency for many years, but it made economic sense to go beyond conceptual realities and embrace the many near-term benefits and advantages available to us to have a zero carbon footprint at this site.”

The total construction cost of the project was $3 million. However, with a $1 million federal grant, combined with PG&E rebates of $100,000 per year over the next five years, 30 percent tax depreciation allowances and investment tax credits – coupled with cost-effective equipment prices – meant the time was right to implement solar.

The remaining $2 million needed to pay for construction was financed through the Bank of America.

[caption id="attachment_33811" align="alignright" width="360" caption="BoDean Company rock crusher at Mark West Quarry"][/caption]

“We average about $25,000 per month for electricity from PG&E to power four rock crushers, washers and pumps at Mark West. With energy costs continuing to rise, we expect the new system to pay for itself in seven years. We calculate that over a 12-month period we will consume as much energy as we produce, even with seasonal daylight differences, so that our solar energy will be virtually free,” according to Bill Williams, general manager at the BoDean Company.

The Mark West Quarry was chosen for solar conversion because its south-southwest facing slope provides the best exposure to the sun’s rays most of the day and throughout the year.

“This almost vertical rock mining site posed intriguing challenges since we had to install the array on a steep 1:1 or 2:1 angle slope requiring the use of special terrain screw mounting systems and shotcreting for erosion control,” said Charlie Young, project manager for BoDean.

“Since summer is when we typically see peak production demand for aggregate, our energy use will coincide with the maximum availability of sunlight, which can result in our system feeding power back into the grid.”

The project was let for bid in June of 2010 with actual construction starting in November of that year during a period with heavy rain. From beginning to end the process took 10 months culminating in the first test on April 22.

Stellar Energy GP, Inc., a leading California-based solar integrator, was the general contractor for the project. TerraFix was retained to provide the ground screw mounting system to hold the panel racks.

Two other sub-contractors, Napa Electric and Vince Sigal, were also engaged to provide electrical services.

Forty people were hired to work on the project, including a number of previously unemployed workers who were retrained to install solar systems.

BoDean’s Mark West Quarry serves all of Santa Rosa, Windsor, Rohnert Park and much of Napa County, including Calistoga and St. Helena.

The company’s Blue Rock Quarry in Forestville serves the West County, Santa Rosa and Sebastopol areas.  BoDean also operates an asphalt plant in Santa Rosa.

While solar proved to be an ideal solution for the Mark West Quarry, wind power may be more suited to its Blue Rock location, since this site has a north-facing hillside partially shielded from the sun.

“We are also exploring state-of-the-art options, such as the Honeywell WT6500 wind turbine from WindTronics, a firm that has developed an almost frictionless technology that can generate up to 15 percent of the energy requirements for a home with a single six-foot diameter unit using only a half mile per hour wind,” Williams said.

The BoDean Company’s “green” best management practices include a strong dedication to environmental preservation.

The firm uses biodiesel in its rolling stock and solar energy to power its office buildings.

BoDean is also heavily committed to environmental reclamation (including a portion of the hillside already reclaimed at Mark West Quarry) as well as wetlands preservation, water management and wildlife habitat restoration.

According to Mr. Soiland, the construction industry is coming back slowly.  He is positive about the future.

“Municipalities are not flush with money for local infrastructure projects, but we are seeing some growth in both the public and private sectors. There is a definite trend toward customer preference to do business with firms that are eco-friendly and use products obtained from sustainable sources. Projects like this could also create a whole new economy based on cost-effective energy farming.” he said.

The BoDean Company, established in 1988, has been a key aggregate and asphalt materials supplier for more than two decades. Company projects include the Highway 101 expansion to Petaluma, as well as libraries, schools (such as providing materials for Piner High School’s new synthetic football field and track), commercial construction projects and hospitals, including the new Sutter Medical Center adjacent to the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts.

“People tell us that they want high quality, locally-produced products, not those from foreign countries or from traditional sources, such as alluvial gravel that may impact their drinking water and the environment,” Mr. Soiland said. “They also want to support local jobs and businesses that use sustainable practices and products produced with renewable energy. At the end of the day, they want to make a difference and feel good about the products they purchase. Our company helps to make this dream a reality.”

For more information, go to www.bodeancompany.com.

CORRECTION, May 16, 2011: The solar panels at BoDean Company’s Mark West Quarry will offset the release of 1,844,521 pounds of CO2 per year. The original story had incorrect information.

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