SIDNEY — Shelby County, in conjunction with the North Central Ohio Solid Waste District, is putting the latest technology to its best use at the Shelby County Recycling Center.
“Shelby County has a long history in recycling,” said Charlie Hall, North Central Ohio Solid Waste District president. “It opened in 1995 and there’s been a lot of equipment upgrades. Its operation is under the solid waste district.
“What you’re seeing is new technology being used to put this facility as the top one in the world,” said Hall during the open house at the recycling center Wednesday.
“Shelby County has something special here,” he said.
And what is that something special? Solar modules on the roof of the recycling center which is powering the facility.
Terrie Termeer, Ohio EPA, said county residents should be proud of the accomplishments at the recycling center.
“For a recycling facility to remain relevant, you must get the (recycled) materials and keep up with the technologies,” she said.
And that’s what the Shelby County Recycling Center has done. The center started with a baler system to recycle materials. It’s since moved to a single system and a “blinged” out Mac truck. Employees came up with a strategy to work with glass.
“A lot of places in Ohio haven’t kept up,” she said. “We’re in partnership with Athens County on solar panels but that’s at a compost facility. this is the first of its kind with a recycling center.”
Mitsubishi Electric is one of the companies which is helping the recycling center power itself.
“I’m proud to be here today,” said Regional Sales Manager for Mitsubishi Electric Gian-Paolo Caminiti. “When you look at the larger picture, this is innovative in every sense of the word. With solar energy, you are managing resources … you are locking in electric costs for 25 years. The solar panels lock in the rate for 25 years. You are using intelligent management of your resources.”
The solar electricity business, said Caminiti, is a billion dollar industry. There are 270,000 people employed (by the industry). It’s growing 30 to 40 percent a year. It’s a trend that’s not going away.
“It’s the courage of people in this party of Oho who are leading the way,” said Caminiti. “People will be paying attention to what you are doing in Shelby County. You will be quoted on how to do it right. Mitsubishi is dependent on people like you.”
OGW Energy Resources and Sollmann Electric have played vital roles in the installation of the solar cells, said Caminiti.
“We’re honored to be part of this,” said Caminiti. “You’ve made the right decision for your community for decades to come.”
Ray Davis, president of OGW, said his company along with Sollmann Electric, FT Environmental and Preformed Line Products, have worked together to make the solar array a reality at the recycling center.
The environment benefits from the solar power.
“Environmental benefits go hand-in-hand with what the solar array allows to be collected,” said Davis.
He said the solar panels have boxes attached to them to help collect the solar power better on cloudy days.
“You have the most sophisticated system in the world, maybe for the next month or two,” said Davis, of how fast technology changes.
When asked about the lifespan of the solar panels, Caminiti said most of the panels have a 25-year warranty on the output of production. The modules are expected to put out 80 percent of better solar power for 25 years.
Caminiti said the company is optimistic that the panels and arrays will produce more than what is expected.
“The solar cells,” he said, “are wired together to create the solar module. There will be environmental influences on the modules.”
Caminiti said the oldest solar field his company has built is in Japan. It was constructed 38 years ago and still has an output of 82 percent.
Davis said the solar modules are monitored to see what each one is producing.
“We can see in real time what each one is doing,” said Davis.
If a module goes down, an email is sent to Davis and his team to alert them of the problem.
Jim Skori, GT Environmental and Solid Waste District employee, said if the panels are producing more power than the center is using — such as on a sunny Saturday or Sunday when the center is closed — the meter runs backwards and a credit is given to the facility. The electricity, he said, is going back to the power grid and is not being wasted.
“Down the road, we might get a storage system which will save even more money,” said Skori.
He said the addition of the solar panels is saving the county $10,000 a year in electric costs. In four to five years, the system will have paid for itself.
North Central Ohio Waste District Operation Manager Jack DeWitt took those in attendance on a tour of the facility. He said there are four county employees and three employees hired from local temp agencies who work at the center.
He said the highest buy back items they recycle are aluminum cans and milk jugs/detergent bottles. Less newspaper is being recycled but the amount of cardboard has dramatically increased over the past few years.
The value in glass recycling has also declined, he said. The center used to get $15 a ton for glass. Today, they receive 7 cents a ton.
“It’s amazing how many people use the drive-thru,” said DeWitt. “People from all over the county bring their items here. We are averaging 32 cubic yards of cardboard everyday.”