Oregon Potato Chip Producer Uses Solar Power

The roof over the Kettle Foods potato chip production line in Salem, Oregon, is now a solar power plant. Kettle Foods, the Energy Trust of Oregon, Portland General Electric (PGE), and the Oregon Department of Energy announced the completion of the Northwest’s largest industrial solar installation at the food processor’s facility.

Salem, Oregon – November 19, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] “Kettle Foods is always looking for ways to innovate,” said Kettle Foods General Manager Marc Cramer. “Beyond our ongoing product innovation, our commitment to solar energy is by far our boldest step. We are always looking at opportunities that make sense and are the right thing to do.” Kettle Foods, a manufacturer of natural snacks, most notably Kettle Chips, is now home to a 114-kW photovoltaic (PV) system. During peak solar hours the system’s output is the equivalent of 25 percent of the company’s electricity demand. The solar energy system generates the equivalent of three to five percent of the company’s total electricity demand on an annual basis. “This project should dispel the myth that Oregon isn’t a good location for solar energy,” said Energy Trust of Oregon Renewable Energy Director Peter West. The solar array is projected to produce 3 million kWh, over the next 25 years. According to Kettle Foods, that is enough power to produce the equivalent of six million bags of potato chips. It is also estimated that 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) will be reduced over the life of the system. “The Oregon Department of Energy has been promoting solar energy for decades,” said Michael W. Grainey, Director of the Oregon Department of Energy. “The potential for solar to provide power with almost no environmental impact makes it a clear choice for the future.” Kettle Foods sought support from the Energy Trust through the nonprofit organization’s Open Solicitation Program. The Energy Trust is providing a financial incentive of US$112,000 for the system. Through a net metering arrangement, surplus power will flow back to PGE and be available for the larger community. Kettle Foods estimated that after incentives and state energy tax credits, the solar system would pay back its net cost in approximately seven years.
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