231 Landing Road, Landing, NJ 07850  ·  973-770-1396  ·  icefactorynj@gmail.com

Solar Panels


Roxbury ice maker will use sun to aid in make cubes



ROXBURY -- In the very near future, Fred Schuld will be making ice from sunlight.  Schuld, owner of The Ice Factory in Landing, has installed 85 solar panels on the roof of his home/business, which will run the ice makers that provided his livelihood for the past 19 years. His company provides cubed ice for retail sales, dry ice, cold packing and shipping and fog machine rentals from his combination home and business on Landing Road.  He held up a solar energy pamphlet from The Home Depot.  "This is where it started," Schuld said. "I was talking to a friend about solar energy, and he showed me this."  That conversation led to a call to 1st Light Energy of South Plainfield, a solar-energy contractor and to a plan to swap over his home's electric system to solar.  "This is probably the largest array in Roxbury," Schuld said.  He is installing a 15,000-watt system that will power his ice-making operation and supply the home's electric power needs.  


Why go solar?  He said the solar system helps the environment and his bottom line.  Schuld said his average electric bill is $13,000. The new system will drop his annual electric cost by $8,000 to $9,000, including an annual $4,320 Solar Renewable Energy Certificate, generated by the sale of excess electricity to the power system. He also is qualified for a 30 percent federal tax rebate related to his business, and he received a $72,000 rebate from the state Clean Energy Program to cover a significant portion of the $122,000 installation costs.  His final cost for the solar system was $49,330. Schuld said. He will be able to break even on the installation in five years.  His home is on an open ridge facing southwest, Schuld said. It is backed by a line of trees that does not shield his home. In the summer, he said, demonstrating a wide arc with his arm, the sun rises in the northeast and moves through a clear sky toward the west. His home is exposed to the sunlight for hours. An additional benefit, he said, is that the roof, with typical asphalt shingles, will be shielded from direct sunlight by the solar panels and the home will stay cooler in summer.


Electrician Steve Rhodes of Middlesex has been installing solar power systems for about two years. On Wednesday, he was installing the inverters that change the solar power to electricity. He planned to finish the usual two-day installation in one day.  Rhodes said the solar installation business was booming until June, when concerns about the rebate fund operated by the Clean Energy Office of the New Jersey Bureau of Public Utilities arose.  The $80 million fund is being investigated.  The result of that investigation and the announcement of reductions in the rebate amounts, because the state received more solar applications than it could pay for, dramatically reduced the demand for solar, Rhodes said.  Schuld applied for his Clean Energy rebate a year ago and faithfully checked the bureau's Web site to see if he would make the cut, which he did.  The Clean Energy program is funded by a $10 to $20 fee added to customer electric bills. That fee is collected by the BPU, which in the spring was admonished in a state treasury report that said the agency had little control over the Clean Energy fund. The report said there was poor record-keeping and grants were given to former BPU employees. The BPU disputed the report's conclusions.  Clean Energy officials said the solar program's standards were changed because the program had received many more rebate applications than it could fund.  300 percent increase. 

The BPU order announcing the changes said the Consumer On-Site Renewable Energy program grew 300 percent in three years. It was funded at $273 million, with an $86.6 million carryover. The changes resulted in unfunded approved rebate applications placed on hold to allow them to be funded as money became available. The changes also reduced the size of the rebates.  In 2005, the Clean Energy program funded 27,5210 rebates for residential high-efficiency heating or cooling installations, 6,403 energy efficient improvements to low-income homes, 2,387 business energy efficient installations, and 496 solar electric or other renewable energy systems for schools, businesses and homes.  Justin Krum of 1st Light Energy, Schuld's contractor, said Schuld just made the rebate cut-off.  "Waiting a year for a rebate is a long time," he said. "But that is about as long as people will wait. After that, they might reconsider the application."

“Still growingm,” Krum said his company has been in business for about 30 months, covering a section of North Jersey along the Route 80/287 corridor. The bulk of the company's business is homes and small businesses for people like Schuld, who want to save money and help the environment, he said.  Despite the issues with the state's rebate program, Krum said, the solar installation business is growing, and the announcement recently that BP, the giant gas and energy company, invested millions in solar energy conversions at its installations is a sign that it is not a technology that just small businesses and homeowners can use. The switch will save BP millions in energy costs, he said.  New Jersey needs to find a way to beef up its rebate fund, Krum said. California commits $3 billion a year, he said, not the $100 million committed in New Jersey. In 2005, the BPU funded the refund program at $140 million. Krum said he was confident the agency would find a way to increase funding.  "The future is excellent," he said.