Owens Corning to go solar

Array of 9,000 panels to provide 6 percent of plant’s energy

— Owens Corning will soon be erecting thousands of solar panels on site at its plant in Delmar.

The project was approved by the town Planning Board in early May. Construction is expected to begin next month, with completion targeted for the end of the year.

“For us, this is really about sustainability,” said Plant Leader John Becker. “Our site is beautiful, and with 200 acres, this is the next stage for us to take advantage of some of the land we have.”

The solar generation project calls for 9,000 ground-mounted panels to be placed on 9.6 acres of the fiberglass insulation plant’s lands. The system will generate about 3.3 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, or about 6 percent of the plant’s annual power usage.

“That might seem small, but that’s a big number for us because of how much power we use,” said Becker.

If that same amount of power were generated using non-renewable resources, about 2,339 metric tons of carbon dioxide would be released, according to the company. That number equals the annual emissions created by about 487 vehicles.

The project came to fruition through a public/private partnership between Owens Corning, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the energy supply company, Constellation.

Owens Corning has entered into a 20-year power purchase agreement with Constellation and in exchange, the company will pay to build and maintain the system.

“Constellation is pleased to support Owens Corning’s commitment to renewable energy,” Michael D. Smith, vice president of solar and energy efficiency sales for Constellation, said in a statement. “Solar as a power-generation source is an attractive option for large-scale manufacturers like Owens Corning to achieve environmental goals and manage electricity costs.”

The project is being partially supported by NYSERDA. In March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state would provide funding through his New York Sun initiative to “develop and construct large-scale solar projects throughout the state.”

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