Solar panels power Burlingame biotech firm

A Burlingame biotech company has installed one of the largest solar-power systems in San Mateo County, continuing a trend of local firms adopting the environmentally friendly energy source.

Vector Laboratories Inc.’s headquarters was supplied with a permit for the work this year, city of Burlingame records indicate. President James Whitehead declined to comment. But other Peninsula firms said their systems have served to enhance their reputation and reduce operating expenses.

“The location that utilizes the system is our Pleasanton location, where we do a lot of manufacturing,” said Renaldo Juanso of Foster City’s Applied Biosystems Group (ABI). “We have been using solar power there (Pleasanton) since 2003. It was actually required by the city … but we wanted to go beyond just being compliant.”

It was important for Applied Biosystems that its customers see it as environmentally friendly, Juanso said.

That fits in with the profile of the typical buyer of a solar-power system, according to Barry Cinnamon, president of Akeena Solar Inc. (AKNS) of Los Gatos, which installed the Vector system. Solar buyers tend to be building owners or long-term leasers, successful and possessed of an eco-friendly image they’re eager to maintain, Cinnamon said.

Vector’s 134-kilowatt system is capable of lowering electricity bills by $24,000 a year, according to Akeena. The firm was also eligible for state and federal incentive programs that lower installation costs.

kwilliamson@examiner.com

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