Monday, November 09, 2009

MARS and PSEG Solar Source Celebrate Completion of New Solar Garden

HACKETTSTOWN, N.J., Nov. 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Red, Yellow and Ms. Green M&M'S® Spokescandies mingled with government officials and executives from MARS and PSEG today at an event in Hackettstown celebrating the completion of a new solar garden. The project is the largest solar facility installed in New Jersey by a food manufacturing plant, and it is the first project completed by PSEG Solar Source, a subsidiary of PSEG.

The solar garden is comprised of more than 28,000 ground-mounted solar panels on 18 acres adjacent to Mars Chocolate North America's headquarters, where more than 1,200 associates work and M&M'S® Brand Chocolate Candies are manufactured. The solar garden provides 2 MW of power during peak hours, which is equivalent to approximately 20 percent of the plant's peak energy consumption. It will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 1,000 metric tons, equivalent to removing 190 vehicles from the road each year.

A long term partnership between Mars Chocolate North America and PSEG Solar Source will ensure the solar garden's success. PSEG Solar Source owns the system, which is located on Mars Chocolate North America's property, and Mars has contracted for the entire output of the system. juwi solar Inc., a solar energy company located in Boulder, Colorado, performed the engineering, procurement and construction services for the system and will also be providing the initial operation and maintenance services. Thin film panels were provided by First Solar.

"Sustainability is one of the most pressing concerns of our time. At Mars, we are aware of the scale of the challenge, and we are determined to be part of the solution," said Todd Lachman, president of Mars Chocolate North America. "As we celebrate with our partner, PSEG Solar Source, the opening of the largest solar garden in the State of New Jersey by a food manufacturer, we also celebrate our commitment to the environment and the communities in which we conduct business. The solar garden strengthens our pledge to serve as an environmentally-friendly corporate citizen, reinforcing our commitment to the town of Hackettstown and the state of New Jersey."

The solar garden project supports aggressive energy goals put in place by the State of New Jersey. Its Energy Master Plan calls for 20 percent of the state's energy to come from renewable sources by the year 2020. The state has made significant inroads in the last few years, installing more than 100 MW of solar energy, making it second only to California in terms of the amount of solar capacity installed.

"We are pleased with the completion and initial performance of the solar system and with the partnership with Mars that got us here," said Diana Drysdale, who heads PSEG Solar Source. "Large scale solar facilities are essential for New Jersey to meet its aggressive solar mandate and this project proves that they can be a very real part of the state's energy mix."

PSEG Solar Source currently owns two other utility-scale solar projects - one in Florida and another in Ohio. Those projects, done with juwi solar Inc, total 27 MW and are expected to be completed by the end of next year. These assets are the first in a planned portfolio of solar facilities throughout the U.S. to be developed, owned and operated by PSEG Solar Source.

Mars Chocolate North America also unveiled today significant renovations to its Hackettstown site, which includes corporate headquarters and manufacturing. The cutting-edge renovations are sustainable, and were designed to help retain existing staff, attract new talent and improve productivity. The colorful, open design encourages flexible, more efficient ways of working, including a variety of unassigned work spaces and conference rooms, each featuring unique seating arrangements - from booths with bench seats to café seating and upholstered chairs paired with small coffee tables.

With the environmentally friendly renovations completed, the company will apply for LEED Gold Certification. If granted, the Hackettstown building will be the first Mars legacy site to achieve LEED Certification. A few of the enhancements include the installation of water-conserving fixtures that reduce water usage by more than 30 percent; a reduction in energy use by 15 percent through the use of a newly upgraded Building Energy Management System, variable frequency drives and energy-efficient lighting and controls; an upgraded roof utilizing a highly reflective roofing material that offsets the direct heat gain to the building; and the utilization of more than 20 percent recycled content in materials, from carpet to ceiling tiles.

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