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AUBURN, Calif. -- Auburn-based Nella Oil is running the pumps, outdoor lighting and convenience stores at 12 of its Flyers retail locations mostly with solar power, according to a report by the Auburn Journal. Four more stations will go solar by the end of this year and another 19 are scheduled to follow in 2005.
The installation of electricity-generating systems at locations where that power is to be used is known as "distributed generation" (DG), said the report. Nella Oil has distributed its own solar DG systems across much of Northern California. While some of the Flyers solar electric arrays have been in place for more than a year, customers may not yet have noticed them because they have a low profile and are designed to maximize the absorption of sunrays and minimize the visual impact at any given site, the report said.
"We encourage people to play 'spot the solar panels' as they pass by," Nella Oil Accounting Director Alan Breese told the newspaper.
These solar power systems have no moving parts. The typical Flyers solar installation, which neatly covers both the convenience store and gas pump canopy, produces up to 35 kilowatts of electricity, the report said, enough to power more than 11 homes.
The systems are most productive on summer afternoons, when electricity rates are at their highest, so just one of them can save more than $2,500 in one month, according to Nella officials.
In addition to saving money, Nella Oil is also giving the environment a break. "Its solar electric systems offset more than a ton of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, among other pollutants, each day," Mark Frederick, partner at Nella Oil's solar power integrator Pacific Power Management, told the Journal. By using the sun to power its operations, the company offsets conventional electricity production, most of which relies on the combustion of fossil fuels.