Half MW Solar Energy Project for Water Utility

New Jersey American Water will soon install the state’s largest ground-mounted solar electric system at its Canal Road Water Treatment Plant in Somerset as part of the company’s energy savings’ initiatives.

The 500 kW ground-mounted system will be designed and built by Dome-Tech Solar, a solar energy firm serving industrial and institutional clients in the northeast, and will include more than 2,800 solar panels from RWE Schott Solar (RSS). New Jersey American Water, the state’s largest water utility, expects it will be able to supplement 15 percent of the peak usage power needed to run the plant with solar energy and save approximately $125,000 a year in reduced energy costs. During peak production periods, the electricity produced by the solar system would be enough to meet the average electricity demand of more than 500 NJ homes. “What we’ve invested over the last several years in making our facility more energy efficient, and what we are investing now in this solar system, will continue to reduce our energy consumption. These investments will result in reduced energy expenses,” said Scott Connor, Project Delivery Manager for the New Jersey American Water. The State of New Jersey encourages the use of green energy through its Clean Energy rebate program, which is one of the strongest in the country. “As part of our overall campaign to reduce energy expenses, now and over time, we are working to keep our costs down, which may enable us to pass those savings on to our customers,” said Walter Lynch, President of New Jersey American Water. “In fact, with the rebate from the New Jersey Energy Program, the solar system alone will pay for itself in about seven years, possibly creating larger savings as the system continues to produce energy for many more years,” The target date for completion of the installation is early Spring 2005. This pilot program could lead to the use of solar energy at other American Water plants. “This project is indicative of how New Jersey’s well-designed renewable energy incentive program is being put to good use,” said Marc Roper, vice president of sales for RSS. “”We applaud both New Jersey American Water for its forward-thinking approach to saving energy, and Dome-Tech, for its innovative approach that uses photovoltaics as the logical next step in designing an energy-saving program for its customers.”