Huntsville business installs solar panels to reduce energy consumption

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - A Huntsville business is taking advantage of sunlight to save some serious cash.

Media Fusion, Inc. is a Huntsville business and the latest to join the North Alabama Buildings Performance Challenge and install solar panels.

Tim McElyea, CEO, said it was a perfect fit.

"When they came out and looked and surveyed the site to see if we were suitable for this, they said it looked as if our building were made for these [solar panels,]" said McElyea. "There was no shade. We had a large, flat roof that was facing South."

The 50-kW solar panel system includes 147 panels that Media Fusion representatives say can generate 5,850 kW per month. They already take advantage of energy-savers inside the building, including LED bulbs. But now that conservation is extended outside, to the roof.

"Essentially, we pay the utility company like we always have, and the amount that we generate that's returned to the utilities is credited back to us," McElyea explained.

And it is already paying off.

"It has been online 2 days and it looks like we generated 625 kW," said McElyea, who estimates that is a $62 value.

"For us to put solar in, certainly we like the idea of being sustainable and green, but it has to make business sense. And for us, this makes good business sense," he explained. "What we do is an increasing competition as far as we see it, so what we have to do is find better and smarter ways to decrease our costs." He added, "In this day and age, if you can decrease your operational costs, you've saved yourself a lot of money and you're a lot more competitive."

The environmental impact is hard to miss, and McElyea said millennial employees are excited to hear the business is doing more to go green.

"It's trying to be a good citizen. Trying to do some things to decrease our footprint. But at the end of the day, it's all about business," said McElyea.

The North Alabama Buildings Performance Challenge is aimed at saving energy, investing in new technology, and putting that money back into jobs. It is sponsored by Energy AlabamaAvion’s Energy Solutions, and Energy Huntsville.

"Energy Alabama was the key for us," said McElyea. "If it weren't for Energy Alabama, we wouldn't have flipped the switch."

Vulcan Solar Power, based in Birmingham, Ala., installed Media Fusion's system and Wednesday, Huntsville Utilities interconnected it to the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Media Fusion is the sixth business to join the North Alabama Buildings Performance Challenge.