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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 21, 2017

Schaus-Vorhies Manufacturing installing large solar array

Oct 17, 2016
PHOTO SUBMITTED Ideal Energy is installing one of the largest privately owned solar arrays in Iowa at Schaus-Vorhies Manufacturing on Ninth Street in Fairfield. The half-megawatt project is going up where the Iowa Malleable foundry once stood. Considered a toxic site in the 1990s, this restored brownfield is now being repurposed as a sustainable energy source for one of Fairfield’s leading businesses.

Schaus-Vorhies Manufacturing will soon get much of its power from the sun due to a large solar energy installation currently under construction.

Ideal Energy, one of Iowa’s leading solar energy companies, is building the 499.8 kilowatt solar power array north of the train tracks on Ninth Street at the site of the old Iowa Malleable Iron Company foundry. The array will power Schaus-Vorhies Companies’ manufacturing division.

The array is one of the largest privately owned solar installations in Iowa. The $1.2 million project will pay for itself within seven years and generate over 650,000 kilowatt hours per year for Schaus-Vorhies Manufacturing. During the next 25 years, it will prevent 10,587 metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, equivalent to about 25 million miles driven in a typical passenger car.

Roger Vorhies, vice president of Schaus-Vorhies Companies, said the company didn’t seriously consider solar power until they saw the projected savings and the numbers spoke for themselves.

“The reason this was an easy decision for us to make on a $1.2 million investment was because [of the] very limited risk,” Vorhies said.

Schaus-Vorhies Companies has a long history of community-oriented and sustainability-focused projects. Some of its past projects include Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, Pilot Grove Savings Bank, and Cambridge Investment Research’s offices, which are LEED Silver certified. Schaus-Vorhies Companies also gave the use of its land, power, and water for an insulated greenhouse on the old Iowa Malleable property as part of the Iowa Department of Agriculture’s Farm-to-School Program. The greenhouse is filled with certified-organic topsoil and warmed by the sand beds at Schaus-Vorhies Kleaning via a reverse-geothermal system.

The Iowa Malleable facility was considered a toxic waste site in the 1990s. After a vandalism-related fuel oil spill in 1995, the EPA commenced emergency cleanup operations there, removing over 800 tons of PCB-contaminated soil, 60,000 gallons of fuel oil, and several hundred square feet of asbestos insulation and tile. After testing proved the site to be safe from contaminants, the Fairfield Economic Development Association took over ownership and demolished most of the buildings. Now that Schaus-Vorhies Manufacturing owns the site, the restored industrial brownfield has a new purpose as a sustainable, clean energy source.

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