Keenan Auto Body installs solar panels

MIDDLETOWN, DELAWARE - A Delaware collision repair shop is installing 248 solar panels that will generate about half of its energy needs and pay for itself in five years, according to Michael LeVasseur, vice president and COO of Keenan Auto Body in Middletown.

The solar power system being installed is the largest of its kind in the state of Delaware rated at 65 kW, he said. Keenan will be the only collision shop in Delaware to have switched to solar and is one of just a handful of collision shops throughout the country that is making the switch to solar energy.

“One of the many benefits of building a collision shop from the ground up is the ability to set it up to accommodate new eco-friendly opportunities,” says LeVasseur. “We have and always will stay ahead of the curve as we have already started the green initiative by switching from solvent-based colors to a more eco-friendly waterborne paint system.”

All remaining Keenan locations are slated to switch to DuPont’s waterborne Cromax Pro by the end of 2009.

“This system will conservatively generate 75 kilowatt hours per year, just about half of the energy needed to run the 16,000-square-foot Keenan facility,” says William Rawheiser, president of Wise Power Systems, the company installing the system.

Current monthly and year-to-date solar information is provided by Fat Spaniel, a third-party monitoring service and can be viewed on a 31-inch display monitor located in Keenan’s waiting room.

There will be 248 pure Poly-Crystalline solar panels installed by the completion of this project. Forty three of the panels will be installed in the front of the building and 205 will be installed in a half-acre field behind the collision facility.

“This was not only the right thing to do for the environment but it was also a solid business decision.” LeVasseur says. The solar panels will provide 90-120 renewable energy credits per year.

“These credits are sold back to the power company at a current value of $200 each,” LeVasseur says. “You don’t have to be a mathematician to figure out that we should recoup our investment and start making money with the system within just five years.”

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell and U.S. Senator Thomas R. Carper are scheduled to a flip the switch ceremony at the Keenan facility in Middletown on August 19.

Founded in 1952 by Joseph T. Keenan and acquired in 1979 by his son Donald J. Keenan, current CEO, the family-owned collision center is one of the largest non-dealer multi-shop operations in the Northeast region, the company said. Each of the nine Keenan locations are equipped with computerized measuring systems, high-end frame equipment, resistant spot welders, heated downdraft paint booths and damage analysis bays.


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