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Lighting Our Worksite With Solar Energy

Updated: Jan 17, 2019

A fleet of Site Solar light towers in Catoosa, Oklahoma, Dec. 20, 2018.

Soon after we broke ground on The Joinery, we forged our first partnership with a local supplier.

Randy Heckenkemper of Site Solar offered to lease us a solar-generated light tower through construction. The tower takes in sunshine during the day then uses it to light our worksite after the sun sets. Not only does this technology align with our energy goals but also it will be especially helpful during these winter months when daylight is limited.

Site Solar, which operates in Oklahoma, Texas, and Arizona, provides rental solar generators and light towers to companies that prefer an alternative to traditional diesel-powered equipment. Heckenkemper tells us that more industries, including oil and gas, are seeking solar technology as a means to reduce costs and carbon emissions.

We were thrilled Heckenkemper took interest in our project after seeing this Tulsa World article. And we were even more intrigued to learn that he began his career as a golf course architect in the 1980s. He’s designed and remodeled more than 40 golf courses across the country, including Forest Ridge Golf Club in Broken Arrow and McDowell Mountain Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, which was the first golf course in the state to earn Audubon Signature Status.

The generosity of local suppliers, like Heckenkemper and Site Solar, is crucial to The Joinery’s success. We will introduce you all of our partners and their products throughout our project. Learn more about partnerships.

We conducted the following interview with Heckenkemper via email over the holidays.

What are the benefits of your product and solar technology?

"Our solar trailer is self-fueling — it gets its energy from the sun. It saves companies money by cutting fuel costs and using less labor to turn units on and off, all while benefiting the environment. Our lights use automatic timers, so once we program the units, the only time someone needs to touch the unit is to clean the solar panels monthly for optimum charging."

You serve several types of industries, including mining, oil, and aviation. Is there greater demand for or interest in solar-generated lighting among these industries?

"Our two largest customers today are frac sand mines and oil and gas producers. Sand mines are located on hundreds or thousands of acres and only portable lighting solutions are practical. Our light towers can be positioned along haul roads and work areas and need no fueling.

"Oil and gas producers have utilized our products for both A/C power and lighting. With our solar panels, battery bank, and inverter, we can provide A/C power anywhere the sun shines. One of our customers was able to replace diesel generators, each using 18 gallons of diesel fuel per day (6,570 gallons annually), with our solar generators. Not only did we save them money with respect to fuel and labor costs, but we reduced CO2 emissions by 67 metric tons annually for each unit.

"We have found that our customers are all trying to innovate and make their business operation more efficient. Although lighting and power generation is typically a very small part of the overall business operation, it is essential and must be reliable. Companies we work with are in a labor crunch, unable to fill many open positions. We alleviate some of their burden; in fact, one of our largest customers has been able to reassign two full-time employees, who were previously committed to turning lights on and off every day and refueling with diesel multiple times a month, and put them to work in a different capacity for the company."

What led you to a career in solar technology after 30+ years of designing golf courses? Why do you care about this technology?

"As a golf course architect, I specialized in eco-friendly designs. McDowell Mountain Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, was the first Audubon Signature golf course in Arizona and the 17th in the world. Locally, Forest Ridge Golf Club, we used the natural features of the property as strategic hazards while retaining them as natural drainage ways.

"We all share a responsibility to take care of the environment in which we live. When offered the opportunity to be a partner in Site Solar, I first researched the need for our application and if a practical solution could be financially sustainable. We spent more than a year in research and development and utilized many experts from the diesel light tower and generator industry.

"New technology can lead to innovation and cost saving when applied thoughtfully. We believe our engineers have done a fantastic job of designing a solar mobile application that can provide A/C power and lighting that our customers prefer."

What made you want to want to partner with The Joinery?

"I have long been a believer in passive solar design of homes and clubhouses and have been interested in green building. When I saw an article on The Joinery and realized its goal was to be carbon neutral, I knew that our solar generator would eliminate the need during construction from grid power generated by either coal or natural gas. My dad grew up on North Elwood Avenue which is now the Tisdale Expressway. His home was only a few blocks north of The Joinery and when I was young, we visited our grandparents every Sunday. So the location of The Joinery was an added bonus to me."

Thoughts on green building in Tulsa/Oklahoma?

"Us is greater than I, and anything we can do as individuals, families, small businesses, and neighborhoods to protect our environment and maybe even leave a better plan for our grandchildren and beyond — that all goes to the greater good. We need power and we need fuel to get from one place to the next. If Site Solar can help provide that for businesses, projects like The Joinery and events like Tulsa Tough — anywhere the sun shines — we want to help."

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