Nestlé Purina PetCare has taken many steps during the past several years to make its Denver plant more energy efficient. Now, thanks to a new pilot solar energy array developed by REC Solar, the plant is manufacturing pet food in an even more environmentally responsible way.
Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter led a dedication ceremony at the plant today announcing the new 467-panel photovoltaic (PV) system that covers approximately 21,000 square feet atop the facility. The 100-kilowatt system is the state's largest privately owned solar array and will provide about 1 percent of the plant's electricity needs.
"This project is the latest evidence of Colorado's dedication to solar energy and its leadership in the New Energy Economy," Gov. Ritter said. "With the passage of Amendment 37* in 2004, Colorado has created a ripe environment for pursuing renewable energy.
It's encouraging to see major companies in the Denver area like Nestlé Purina take full advantage of the opportunity."
Installed by REC Solar, the largest installer of solar electric systems in the country, the solar array at Nestlé Purina's plant is the latest in the company's ongoing efforts to reduce its consumption of fossil fuels. During the past 5 years, the plant has reduced its energy use by 12.4% per ton of product produced by implementing projects such as installing a new energy efficient boiler; upgrading to higher efficiency lighting throughout the plant; improving compressed air and steam systems; and establishing best practice guidelines for operational efficiencies.
"Nestlé Purina has taken many steps towards achieving our goal of becoming the leader in environmental sustainability in the pet food industry," said Mark Burns, vice president and director of manufacturing for Nestlé Purina PetCare. "Utilizing renewable energy at our manufacturing facilities is just one part of our overall company plan to create shared value for society, which means going beyond compliance and sustainability and really making a difference for the long-term."
To provide the same amount of electricity now produced by the plant's 467 solar panels, Xcel Energy would generate nearly 300,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year -- an amount equivalent to that typically emitted annually by 23 cars. The solar project makes Nestlé Purina the first pet food manufacturer to use renewable energy for the production of pet food.
"As a leader in the pet food industry, we owe it to our consumers and the communities in which we do business to constantly look for ways to make our operations more efficient and environmentally responsible," said Tom Plymell, operations performance manager at the Nestlé Purina PetCare Denver plant. "We worked closely with REC Solar and Xcel Energy to develop and install a pilot solar system that fits our plant infrastructure. This opens the door for us to explore expanding this system at our plant, and to look at adding solar energy systems at some of our other U.S. facilities."
The plant's solar project is a first-of-its-kind for Nestlé Purina, but it also marks a landmark commercial project for REC Solar in Colorado. Known widely for delivering solar power to more homes across America than any other solar power company, REC Solar also worked with Nestlé Purina to offer and install solar systems in the homes of several plant associates.
"We are proud to partner with Nestlé Purina, a company that understands the commercial and environmental benefits of solar," said Angiolo Laviziano, REC Solar CEO & President. "We expect that the focus of the federal stimulus package on renewables will spur more and more Colorado businesses and organizations to find ways to increase their sustainability and reduce their carbon footprint. In addition, we are proud to contribute to the local economy by creating more solar jobs in Colorado."
The Purina PetCare project is the latest in a series of successes for REC Solar in Colorado. The company plans to expand employment by 10 to 20 percent due to the new opportunities for clean energy provided by the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The stimulus spending is expected to have a significant impact on solar installations in Colorado.
To help celebrate the launch of the new solar array, Nestlé Purina will donate more than 30 tons of Purina Dog Chow and Purina Cat Chow to the Metro Denver Shelter Alliance, which has 23 affiliate members comprised of animal welfare organizations and support groups.
The solar project at Nestlé Purina PetCare's Denver facility is the latest effort towards increasing energy efficiency across all of its manufacturing facilities. Between 1990 and 2008, the company reduced energy usage at its nine dry pet food plants by approximately 20 percent per ton of product produced.
Each Nestlé Purina plant in the United States employs a person who is responsible for environmental and energy issues. The company is now evaluating the feasibility of installing solar power capabilities at its Flagstaff, Ariz., plant in 2009 and its Maricopa, Calif., plant in 2010. Globally, the company has broader corporate goals to improve energy efficiency by 2 percent this year.
About Nestlé Purina PetCare
Nestlé Purina PetCare promotes responsible pet care, community involvement and the positive bond between people and their pets. A premiere global manufacturer of pet products, Nestlé Purina PetCare is part of Swiss-based Nestlé S.A., the world's largest food company.
About REC Solar, Inc.
REC Solar, Inc. is an industry-leading solar solutions provider specializing in grid-tied residential and commercial installations. With a local presence in all major solar markets in the USA and with millions of watts installed, REC Solar is committed to lowering the cost of solar power through efficient processes, innovative products, and outstanding customer service. REC Solar is among the nation's largest solar integrators and currently has offices throughout 6 states (AZ, CA, CO, HI, OR and NJ). REC Solar is continuing its rapid expansion into other states and has the capability to implement solar installations in every location as incentives become available. REC Solar's Colorado offices are located in Westminster at 9042 Marshall Court and can be contacted at (303) 577-9630, or toll free (888) OK-SOLAR (888-657-6527). For additional information on REC Solar visit http://www.recsolar.com
* Amendment 37 is a renewable energy portfolio standard that required Colorado's largest utilities to obtain 10 percent of their electricity from renewable energy resources by 2015 -- passed in 2004 it marks the first time in U.S. history that a standard was ratified by voters rather than processed through a state's legislature. Since then, state legislators have doubled the renewable requirement and state and local governments have taken additional steps to encourage solar and renewable development
Photo by Jack Dempsey