Highland Craftsmen Inc., a small poplar bark shingle manufacturer in North Carolina, recently achieved the energy efficiency milestone of net zero electricity use with funds provided through the Energy Department's State Energy Program (SEP) under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act). The owners, Marty and Chris McCurry, installed photovoltaic panels at their manufacturing plant to generate electricity, and they upgraded controls, piping, and flooring to improve the operation of three natural gas kilns that dry locally purchased wood. The grants were provided by the North Carolina Department of Commerce's Green Business Fund using Recovery Act SEP funds and were administered by the North Carolina Energy Office.
The energy efficiency upgrades will help the company produce its Bark House Brand siding with net zero electricity use, which means the operation will produce at least as much electricity as it uses in one year. The solar installation will decrease Highland Craftsmen's electric bills by $6,000 per year, enabling the company to sell the excess power back to the grid. The kiln upgrade, which is expected to improve kiln efficiency by 40 percent, will account for $5,000 in energy savings. For the complete story, see the Energy Blog.