Eco Lips goes solar in new Marion facility

Published by Corridor Business Journal 12/13/18

Eco Lips has installed 5,900 square feet of solar panels on the roof of its new manufacturing headquarters in Marion.

With nearly 300 modules, the on-site renewable energy is feeding power directly to Eco Lips' production facility. It is projected to supply 75 percent of the site's electricity demand. The solar power system was installed by SiteGen Solar, a division of Paulson Electric. 

"We were specifically looking for a new location that had room on the ground or the roof for solar," Eco Lips Owner Steve Shriver said in a release. "We love solar because part of our mission is to make as little negative impact as possible. Our customers also appreciate the fact that our lip balm is now made with solar power." 

Eco Lips is no stranger to renewable energy. The company has purchased renewable energy credits (RECs) from wind since 2004. It also bought solar RECs when it was a tenant of the Cherry Building in Cedar Rapids, which has a rooftop solar array.

Tyler Olson, president of SiteGen Solar and CEO of Paulson Electric, said it was good to work with Mr. Shriver because of the shared values of the two companies, and because of the building itself. While all roof types work for solar, the building's metal roof was particularly suited for the project, Mr. Olson explained. Metal roofs have a longevity of 40-50 years while solar arrays can produce energy for up to 35 years. The Eco Lips array will be ready for replacement at the same time as the roof.

Eco Lips is using a unique financing method by leasing the array at the net cost of construction and a federal tax incentive. With no upfront capital investment, the energy savings more than cover the monthly lease payment while Eco Lips pays a fixed annual rate for the power produced. Mr. Shriver will then own the array after eight years. This allows the company to have a positive cash flow in the first year while enjoying the benefits on-site solar power.