Golf course designer incorporates solar towers
TULSA — As a golf course designer, Randy Heckenkemper prefers incorporating as much of the natural environment as possible while limiting the artificial impact.
That is the approach he took when designing the course at Forest Ridge Golf Club in Broken Arrow.
"I always thought the best golf courses came from whatever nature provided," he said. "At Forest Ridge we didn't move a lot of soil to create the course, we created a routing that best utilized the existing topography and creeks."
Heckenkemper also is an avid hiker and appreciates the beauty found in nature.
"We only have one environment so it is all of our responsibility to take care of what we have," he said.
With his latest venture, Site Solar, he is helping companies take steps to use renewable energy to cut their carbon footprint.
Site Solar provides solar light towers and generators. About 80 percent of the company's business is with oil and gas companies that depend on light towers and generators onsite in fields where there are no connections to a power grid.
Typically, oil and gas operations have relied on diesel-powered generators that burn about 18 gallons of fuel per day.
"When we replace the diesel generator on a wellhead we are saving 67 metric tons of carbon emissions," he said.
One light can run 104 hours between charges while all four lights can run 26 hours without a charge.
The towers can be set up to run one light from dusk until dawn while the other three lights are set to a motion sensor.
"We can link units together to create a mobile mini grid. With the integrated data we can log in and watch for changes and discharges and always know the battery levels. That allows us to anticipate problems," Heckenkemper said.
While the company is based in Tulsa and Phoenix, it partners with contractors in areas where the units are deployed. This way, there is always someone within two hours of a unit's location so maintenance and any other issues can be addressed quickly.
Site Solar lighting towers can be seen locally at temporary parking lots south of the Gathering Place, the Tulsa Botanical Garden and during Tulsa Tough.
The company has 541 units either in use or readying for deployment in Oklahoma and Texas.
The plan is to have 1,000 by the end of the year and 2,000 by the end of 2020.
"Oil companies are trying to be more environmentally friendly and where they can use solar they are fully embracing it," Heckenkemper said.
Site Solar was formed in 2016 when Heckenkemper partnered with two people who previously were involved with a solar company in San Francisco. They decided, after looking at existing solar products, to research and develop a product that can be reliably used on a large scale and charge even on cloudy days.
"We operate lights with no noise. So on job sites with our solar towers and diesel towers, safety and shift change meetings usually occur under our lights because they are quiet," he said. "We don't look to replace diesel by any means. But we've found some niches where our product does a really good job."