Case Studies

EcoLogical Energy Systems LLC

Connecting communities through solar and wind power solutions and education

Since 2009, EcoLogical Energy Systems LLC (EES) has been delivering reliable, renewable wind and solar power solutions to residential, light commercial and municipal customers throughout northeast Tennessee, southwest Virginia and parts of North Carolina. Based in Bristol, Tennessee, EES’s services include wind turbines, solar photovoltaic, solar thermal water heating, solar pumps and solar lighting systems. “We install and maintain a range of systems – anywhere from 2 kilowatts [about 10 solar panels] all the way up to 50 kilowatts [about 200 solar panels],” says Nick Safay, vice president of marketing for EES.

Secrets to solar success

In just six years, EES has built an extensive portfolio of large and small solar and wind installations, including the area’s first municipal solar farm in Bristol and an award-winning solar pavilion project at a local school. Not only is EES an award-winning designer and installer of these systems, the company is also a renewable-energy leader in the community.

“We offer a calendar of free educational workshops for the community and host LEED webinars for LEED APs and architects needing continuing education credits required for professional certification,” says Safay, who studied sustainable development, served as an energy auditor for a number of years and is a longtime volunteer with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

EcoLogical Energy Systems LLCThe workshops include everything from how solar panels are made to the equipment used in an installation. EES also digs into the difference between off-grid and grid-tie systems, while providing financial breakdowns of current state, federal and utility incentives available.

“North Carolina is a hotspot for solar credits,” says Safay. “Between federal and state credits, home owners can save up to 65 percent; this makes North Carolina second or third in the U.S. for solar tax credits. Virginia and Tennessee are catching up, but the benefits are still significant.”

Filling a void in the local market

EES is now an industry expert, but the firm’s roots are actually far from the solar world. “The company started in 2009 by Marti Morenings, who founded and owns one of the largest spa product distribution companies in North America,” explains Safay.

As an entrepreneurial woman, Morenings launched a sustainability initiative within the spa industry. “She worked with vendors and clients to find eco-friendly spa products and help them become more sustainable in their businesses,” says Safay. “Eventually, she wanted to implement solar power at the company’s warehouse in Abington, Virginia, that had 125 people. When she couldn’t find a good local solar designer and installer she decided solar was a viable business to invest in and that sparked the beginnings of EES.”

Today, Morenings remains CEO of EES and the company now has a team of 10 employees. EES’s scope of professional services includes site assessment, financial analysis, project financing assistance, grant writing, project management, installation and maintenance.

“One of our installations won an award from Solar Builder Magazine,” shares Safay. “EES won Ground Mount Installation Project of the Year in 2013.”

The nationally recognized PV solar pavilion project includes 200 solar panels. “We installed a ground-mounted array, incorporating a picnic/outing type area into the design,” explains Safay. “Now the school is incorporating renewable energy lessons into classroom curriculum.”

At Emory & Henry College, EES delivered the design and installation of the first solar-powered radio stations in the Southeast.  The ground mount installation included 96 Solar World 275-kilowatt monocrystalline modules.

Trash to renewable-energy treasure

For the City of Bristol, EES installed a 200-kilowatt solar system with 819 MAGE USA solar panel modules over a closed, capped-off construction demolition landfill. “Once the site was full, the city wanted to make better use of the area,” says Safay.

The 819-panel system will produce approximately 300,000 kilowatts of solar every year. “That’s the equivalent to reducing CO2 emissions by 6,206 metric tons or taking 1,212 cars off the road every year,” calculates Safay.

EES is gearing up for a trip to the annual Greenbuild Convention and Expo, this year in Washington, D.C. “I’ve been involved with USGBC for a number of years, serving as part of USGBC southwest Virginia and east Tennessee chapters and other regional councils,” says Safay. “EES wants to help contribute to USGBC’s mission and we’re proud sponsors of local chapters and events.”

With energy independence at the forefront of its mission, EcoLogical Energy Systems LLC is helping customers produce their own power, offering professional services for every project type – homes, businesses and municipalities – and the education to back it.

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