Fairview's GroWild Grows a Little Greener with Grants
Feb. 9, 2011
Deb Fehr for The Fairview Observer
GroWild, Inc in Fairview relies on the sun to help keep its native plant nursery flourishing and now the sun is helping the business flourish in other ways as well.
A new solar panel system was recently installed at GroWild - and GroWild’s Terri Barnes explained why this is a big deal.
“The nursery business is dependent on so many products that require the use of fossil fuel such as soil and pots as well as energy to heat and cool our greenhouse and run irrigation systems,” Barnes said.
“Any opportunity we have to reduce our carbon footprint is important to us all, especially in the nursery industry.”
Barnes and partner Mike Berkley took advantage of multiple grant incentives to help move the process forward.
“We contacted Lightwave Solar Electric LLC in June 2010 to assist us in successfully applying for the grants,” Barnes shared.
“Without their help we would not have been able to navigate this tedious and complicated process.”
Nashville-based Lightwave Solar Electric also installed the solar system at GroWild, that will generate excess electricity that Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation and TVA can make available to other customers through the Generation Partners Program.
“It is projected that our system will be fully paid for in approximately three years, resulting in free energy for us beginning year four and forward,” Barnes shared.
The solar system cost $184,000. GroWild received several grants, including a grant of $50,760 from Tennessee Solar Institute. The pole-mounted system consists of nine separate poles that support 108 SolarWorld 245 watt solar panels.
Chris Davis with Tennessee Solar Institute described TSI as “a center of excellence, started in April 2010 between the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory that brings together scientists, engineers, and technical experts with business leaders and policymakers to help speed the deployment of solar technology.”
Davis said the goal of their grant program is to promote the use of solar energy in Tennessee, while making Tennessee businesses more energy efficient.
“Projects like GroWild’s are a perfect example of what the Solar Installation Grants were designed to accomplish,” reported Davis.
“The completed project will make their business more energy efficient, increase their bottom line from a business perspective – thus helping to stimulate the economy – and show other businesses that solar energy works which in turn should help to get other businesses thinking about how they can benefit from a conversion to solar energy.”
GroWild also received a grant of $46,001 from USDA Renewable Energy for America (REAP), a grant of $55,201 from the Federal Treasury, and a rebate of $1,000 from TVA.
For Barnes and Berkley, the new solar panel system is an extension of what they have been striving to do since the day they opened the native plant nursery in 1997.
“For GroWild, Inc. this follows our philosophy of sustainability, permaculture and conservation.”GroWild Nursery is situated on 117 acres on Hill Hughes Road in Fairview. Barnes and Berkley also specialize in the installation of green roofs and rain gardens. The nursery is open by appointment only.