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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


South Moon Under Goes Solar

BERLIN — When Frank Gunion of South Moon Under first contacted solar energy company Flexera, it was just part of his company’s environmentally friendly thinking. South Moon Under has been a supporter of sustainable practices since long before the notion came into vogue. 

From the site work upon which their local offices rest to their support of beach protection and positive storm water management practices, the company has been ahead of the curve on environmental matters.

What Gunion said he hadn’t really appreciated was the dent he could put in his company’s carbon emissions by incorporating solar panels on one of the buildings in the Berlin complex. His opinion was changed over the planning period but until he saw its affects recently, the volume of both financial and environmental good escaped him.

Since coming on line on Aug. 31, the solar arrays atop the main South Moon Under building have reduced the carbon imprint by more than 5,000 pounds of carbon emissions, according to Gunion.

“It’s mind boggling that this little building can produce that much carbon,” he said.

Knowing that it does will likely only accelerate the company’s plans to expand its reliance on solar power.

What especially intrigued Gunion was that the decision to rely more on solar power was particularly aggressive even by the company’s standards. Instead of focusing on conservation alone, they are now able to conserve and produce.

“This is the first time we’re making power,” Gunion said, “rather than just reducing its use.”

Although the construction and addition of the solar panels took less than a month, the process to design the system and get the needed permits and exceptions took nearly a year.

John Donato, an energy consultant for Flexera, worked with Gunion and the other people at South Moon Under every step of the way.

“This [project] was designed for efficiency,” he said. “We wanted to make sure they could maximize the amount of power they produce.”

In his speech at last week’s ribbon cutting, Gunion cited benefits available from both the federal and state governments that included tax incentives, but he also praised the work of the Town of Berlin and Jim Mathias at the state level. Both helped Gunion on the regulatory side of the equation, effecting the kinds of rule changes and exceptions needed for the project to go forward.

Donato was with him every step of the way. As part of Flexera’s preparation process, they look for appropriate sources of alternate funding or tax incentives that apply to the work they do. Donato said that although the economy remains a little slow, investments in solar and wind power represent the kinds of money both people and companies are still willing to invest.

Energy costs aren’t expected to plummet in the near future and the sustained interest in alternative, renewable energy is the result of people recognizing that fact.

Donato credited Gunion’s approach to the project, pointing out that he expected Gunion to continue to expand the company’s reliance on solar as the model proves itself useful.

Even though the building faces south, Donato said that the reduction of its carbon output is in proportion to the size of the project.