Solar Update: Nestle Purina Installs Panels at Factory; Solar Firms Join to Ensure Net Metering
Nestle Purina PetCare unveiled its largest solar array at its Atlanta pet food factory. The array on the plant’s rooftop, consisting of 1,900 panels, was designed and installed by United Renewable Energy (URE). The modules will produce more than 585,000 kWh per year, with this energy used to power equipment in various areas of the plant, including processing, packaging and the warehouse. Nestle Purina purchases its electricity from Georgia Power Company, which derives seven percent of its total electric energy from renewable sources, including solar, wind and biomass. All of Nestle Purina North America’s manufacturing locations have now implemented and maintain environmental management systems, which have been certified to meet the ISO 14001 standard. Each Nestle Purina plant in the United States employs a person who is responsible for environmental and energy issues.
In other news, four solar companies – SolarCity, Sungevity, Sunrun and Verengo – have formed The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) to ensure the continuation of net energy metering (NEM). Currently in place in 43 states, NEM provides solar consumers with credit for the energy they put back on the grid, which utilities then sell to other customers. But TASC says that utilities are trying to eliminate NEM because it doesn’t advance their business.
TASC says studies in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, and Vermont have all found that solar provides a net benefit to ratepayers and to state economies. For example, a study published this year by Crossborder Energy shows solar customers with net metering will deliver a financial benefit of more than $92 million annually to all California ratepayers, not just those with solar. By contrast, the utility trade association Edison Electric Institute (EEI) recently issued a report that describes the increasing popularity of consumer-driven rooftop solar, energy efficiency, and demand response as a “vicious cycle.” The report shows that utilities view rooftop solar as a threat to their monopoly business model, which guarantees utilities high profits from large infrastructure projects funded by ratepayers, while distributed solar reduces the need for investment in transmission and distribution infrastructure and decreases the need for conventional power. TASC Executive Director Anne Smart will manage the organization’s policy and public outreach efforts to protect NEM.
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