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Local companies install solar bench on Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail

NOW: Local companies install solar bench on Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind.—Three South Bend companies are using their partnership to install solar-powered benches in the community.

Inovateus Solar, Logistick and SPI Industries have installed a solar-powered bench outside of their offices off of State Line Road in St. Joseph County, right on the Indiana Michigan River Valley Trail.

“People can come charge their digital devices, whether it is a cell phone or a tablet or even a laptop. You can sit down and charge up and you can get up to ten hours of charging in one day,” said Vice President of Marketing and Sustainability for Inovateus, Tyler Kanczuzewski.

The 30-watt solar panel on the Soofa solar bench charges a 12-volt, 8-amp battery inside of the bench. The battery in turn charges the device that is plugged into the bench with a standard USB cable.

“Sometimes solar, it’s harder to touch. It’s usually on buildings or it's usually on a ground installation somewhere that’s maybe fenced off. So this is a great way for solar to be hands on for trail users, whether it be bikers or runners,” Kanczuzewski said.

Trail goers can also view Inovateus Solar’s larger, 52 kilowatt solar array from the bench. The rooftop solar array powers 40% of the building’s energy consumption, and saves the company over $5,000 per year.

Kanczuzewski says the bench, which was installed last week, is a bit of a “thank you” to the trail outside of his office window.

“This trail has brought value to our whole community, northern Indiana and southern Michigan, connecting two states that are forward thinking and trying to improve in health and wellness and sustainability,” Kanczuzewski said.

Behind the bench is a sign with a few tips for being sustainable, including purchasing Earth-friendly products and finding ways to re-purpose items.

Kanczuzewski says the company is working to place more solar-powered benches in and around South Bend. Two solar benches will be re-installed following a construction project on the St. Joseph River downtown in spring of 2020.

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