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‘Going Green’ Yields Environmental Benefits And Cost Savings At Harleysville Insurance

For Harleysville Insurance, “going green” is paying off—in more ways than one.

The company estimates that its new rooftop solar photovoltaic system will generate about 15 percent of the annual energy needs of its corporate headquarters.

Approximately 47,600 square feet of solar panels now cover nearly half of the total roof surface of the Harleysville complex. Each of the 1,860 ET Solar 275 watt panels weighs 50 pounds and measures 77 by 39 inches. Together, the solar panels are projected to produce approximately 623,000 kilowatt hours of energy each year—enough to power 62 average Pennsylvania homes.

Tecta America was contracted by Harleysville to install the 511.5 kwp system. Based in Skokie, Illinois, Tecta America is the largest national commercial roofing company in the U.S. Its subsidiary, Tecta Solar, was the turnkey installation vendor for the system.

“The benefits to be derived from ‘going green’ are impressive and serve to underscore Harleysville’s commitment to the preservation of our environment and conservation of our natural resources,” noted Michael L. Browne, president and chief executive officer.

A significant portion of the project’s $2.8 million cost is being offset by financial assistance from both the federal and state governments. “There’s a 30 percent federal tax credit—amounting to $840,000—coupled with as much as a $90,000 benefit due to bonus depreciation that will help defray about one-third of our investment,” explained Arthur Chandler, senior vice president and chief financial officer. “On top of those federal incentives, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Financing Authority provided us with a $355,000 solar energy program grant.”

In addition to contributing to a healthier environment, Andrew Shields, assistant secretary and director of facilities services, expects long-term energy cost savings for the company to result from the solar project. “Because the system will generate about 15 percent of our annual energy needs at a fixed cost, we expect both cost savings and protection from rate increases on some of our power costs,” he noted. “In fact, we expect to re-coup our overall investment within the first seven years of operation.”

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