Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Builds Vermont’s Largest Solar Array

Wed, Nov 25, 2009

Energy Types

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, a company which once consumed close to a megawatt of electricity, is now a generator of 100,000 watts of electricity a year, thanks to its recent installation of a 572-panel solar array on the roof of its Waterbury distribution center.

The project, which was estimated at an astounding $750,000, was made affordable thanks to state and federal tax incentives, along with public and private grants.  Most notably, it received $250,000 from Vermont’s Clean Energy Development Fund and $50,000 from Green Mountain Power, a utility that provides a quarter of the state’s electricity.

Paul Comey, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters’ Vice President of Environmental Affairs, said in a public statement, “In addition to generating clean electricity for use in our facility, the array also demonstrates the feasibility of solar panels as a viable solution for producing power in Vermont.”

The solar array generates approximately 100,000 watts, but Green Mountain administrators are expecting it to produce about 112,000 kilowatt hours of good electricity a year.  “That will be enough to run about 16 households year-round,” said Comey.

While the solar project is expected to generate only one percent of the power the plant uses, it still makes a big difference in the grand scheme of things.  Comey explained, “One percent doesn’t sound like a big number but if you look at the country, typically the country has one-tenth of one percent solar power, so the fact that we have more than one percent solar is a ten-fold increase over the entire country.”

In addition to its most recent project, Green Mountain Coffee is furthering its environmentally conscious efforts by offering its employees group discounts on solar power systems through a green benefits program with groSolar, another one of its partners in the solar panel project.  The company is also planning to award $800,000 in grants to four non profits working to address climate change in transportation, building political will, individual empowerment, and threats to coffee-growing communities.

Green Mountain Coffee is hoping that its solar development will inspire lawmakers and the public to follow in its footsteps and support renewable energy.  While the project may only be a small step for solar generation, it is a symbol of greater energy-saving innovations and strategies to come.

By Kristen Kubilus. Kristen can be reached at Kekubilus@hotmail.com.

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