Something new under the sun: Two solar arrays going up at offices in Champaign

CHAMPAIGN – Henneman Engineering is installing a solar panel array atop its offices at 1605 S. State St., C.

The array is part of an 11.25-kilowatt electric generating system, said Michael Henneman, the company's chief executive officer.

"We're hopeful that it'll reduce energy costs and utility costs," he said, adding he expects it will supply 3 percent to 4 percent of the office's energy needs.

"While it won't displace Ameren, it's a first step," Henneman said.

The system is being installed by HWS Energy Partners, of which Henneman is a vice president.

HWS President Lyle Wachtel said his company also installing a solar array at Henneman Engineering's Industrial Technology Group office at 2803 Research Road, C.

Wachtel said federal and state grants covered about 60 percent of the installation costs.

"As an energy development company, we're interested in being able to provide solutions for customers that are more than just burning natural gas for generating electricity or heat," he said.

"There's a clear movement to alternative energy solutions, and solar is one that has a lot of upside," Wachtel said.

The solar arrays on State Street and Research Road are made by different manufacturers and employ different solar-panel technologies, he said.

"The thought behind that is, we're able to compare performance in the same weather and get an idea of which performs better than the other," he said.

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