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Owens Corning

Constellation Installs 2.7-MW Ground-Mounted Solar Array at Owens Corning Plant

Background


Solar power is expected to provide approximately
6% of the electricity used annually at Owens Corning’s
Feura Bush plant.
Credit: Constellation

In Albany County, the Pink Panther is going green.

Celebrating its 75th anniversary, Owens Corning is the building materials company known for it its pink-dyed fiberglass insulation. “Owens Corning is committed to helping solve the world’s most pressing energy and climate challenges, and we are constantly seeking solutions that will materially contribute,” according to Frank O’Brien-Bernini, vice president and chief sustainability officer for Owens Corning.

Owens Corning initially worked with its local utility, National Grid, to reduce energy usage at its thermal and acoustical insulation plant in Feura Bush, NY. Owens Corning then worked with Constellation and NYSERDA to install a 2.7-MW (DC) solar generation system at the plant. The solar photovoltaic array has 9,018 ground-mounted panels that occupy more than nine acres, and is one of the largest solar installations in Upstate New York. It is designed to generate about 6% of the plant’s annual electricity needs.

“This solar project represents our continuing efforts to implement programs that advance our 2020 Environmental Footprint Goals, and we are proud to be part of a project that helps protect New York State’s environment,” added O’Brien-Bernini.

Challenge

Constellation financed, built, owns, and maintains the solar generation system at Owens Corning’s Feura Bush plant. Constellation is a subsidiary of Excelon Corp. that supplies power, natural gas, and energy products and services to residents and businesses across the United States. Owens Corning buys the electricity that is generated from the solar array under a 20-year purchase agreement with Constellation.

Constellation owns and operates more than 164 MW of solar installations for businesses, schools, and government agencies throughout the United States. Solar and large-scale photovoltaic installations are still relatively new in Upstate New York, and the Constellation solar team navigated evolving permitting and grid interconnection processes, as well as educated the surrounding community on the features of the latest solar technologies. In addition, the Constellation construction team encountered one of the wettest summers on record in the State.

Solution

In the end, Constellation’s designers developed a solar generation system that pleased Owens Corning and the surrounding community. The system also has flexibility to expand capacity and to take advantage of new technology, permitting, and policy options that may arise over the term of the power purchase agreement. Overcoming the wet weather, the construction crew still managed to install the solar generation system ahead of schedule.

Gary Fromer, senior vice president of energy management programs for Constellation, said “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. We applaud Owens Corning for being at the forefront of solar development in New York and Governor Cuomo’s NY-Sun Competitive Photovoltaic Program for creating the public-private initiatives that help make projects like this possible.”

Results

Constellation reports that the solar generation system has been operating as expected since installation in October 2013. The project received part of its NY-Sun incentive after the system was interconnected, inspected, and began reporting performance information to the monitoring website. Additional performance-based incentives will be paid over the next three years, once the solar generation system produces as much power as expected.

The system is expected to generate 3.3 million kWh annually. According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data for the region, generating the same amount of electricity using nonrenewable sources would result in the release of approximately 2,339 metric tons of CO2 or the equivalent emissions from 487 passenger vehicles annually.

And those green numbers may be one reason that the Pink Panther is smiling.

Last Updated: 05/30/2014