Lube Distributor Goes Solar


Lubricants and fuels distributor Van De Pol Enterprises Inc.,of Stockton, Calif., on Thursday held a dedication ceremony at its company headquarters for its 132-kilowatt solar electric system, which will save $45,000 to $55,000 per year and will pay for itself within seven years.

Van De Pol Enterprises supplies lubricants for a wide variety of industries throughout northern California via three distribution centers, specializing in trucking, agricultural, heavy construction and food-processing plants. It is an authorized distributor of ConocoPhillips lubricants – including the 76, Conoco, Phillips 66 and Kendall brands – along with AirBP, Castrol Aviator, Mechanics Choice and Nippon Oils Eneos brand lubricants.

The company contracted last September with Pacific Power Management – a company specializing in solar electric system integration – for design, development and installation of the $1.1 million system, which generates electricity that can be used to power the entire headquarters building. The system, which qualified for a $462,287 rebate from utility company Pacific Gas and Electric Co., went into operation in early March, Marketing Coordinator Tom Van De Pol told Lube Report. He said there are also tax incentives on top of that rebate that help to defray the costs and bring down the long-term payout for the system.

According to PG&E, the solar system will generate enough electricity to offset Van De Pols electric bills completely at current power rates, an average of $3,900 per month.

We certainly dont expect electrical rates to stay static over the next 20 years, Tom Van De Pol said. We expect them to go up.

Company President Ron Van De Pol anticipates annual energy savings in the $45,000 to $55,000 range. These savings, along with the rebates and applied tax incentives, will allow this project to be paid in seven years, he said. After that time, we will only have minimal energy costs; and since energy costs will continue to increase, we will see our savings continue to grow over the 25-year warranty of the project.

Tom Van De Pol said the company was inspired in part by the solar power efforts of another California petroleum products distributor, Royal Petroleum, which employs solar power at its main headquarters and for a large card-lock operation. Theyre good friends of ours, he said.

He explained that Van De Pol company owners David Atwater and president Ron Van De Pol do business with Nella Oil, owned by the Dwelle family. David Dwelle is a principal in Pacific Power Management. At the Pacific Oil Conference Meeting in 2005, he said, they began discussing the possibilities and benefits of using solar power at Van De Pol Enterprises new headquarters, which opened in late 2004.

Last October they were ready to go forward with the local governments permit process. We were the first solar installation in the city of Stockton, so everybody wanted to look at it, and everybody wanted to have their fingerprints on it, he said. The permitting process was very arduous. Van De Pol said installation was completed in February, and the solar power system went into operation in March.

Van De Pol said the system powers the companys entire headquarters facility and works transparently. The only thing you see is that the roof is covered in solar panels, he said. Pacific Power also provided a monitoring service that enables the company to track its own power usage on a 15-minute average basis.

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