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Wegmans Food Markets has placed solar panels on the roof of an office building near its corporate headquarters, as well as constructing two arrays of solar panels at the Wegmans Organic Farm by Canandaigua Lake in New York state's Finger Lakes region.
"Reducing our carbon footprint is an ongoing priority," explained Jason Wadsworth, sustainability coordinator at Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans. "Over the past few years, we have made a lot of progress in reducing our electrical consumption, meanwhile researching different renewable energy options. We felt the time was right for us to try solar."
The reason for this decision, according to Wadsworth, is that "[s]olar panel technology keeps improving. Solar energy installation costs have come down, and NYSERDA [New York State Energy Research and Development Authority] incentives are available to offset some of the cost. So we identified two locations that made sense as starting points."
Panels Provide Power
The 2,000-plus solar panels now installed on the roof of a Wegmans office building in Rochester are expected to produce almost enough power for one month's worth of electricity for that structure annually, which the company says is the equivalent of powering almost 50 homes for a year.
Scheduled to be completed this summer, the Wegmans Organic Farm installation features a solar array next to the main barn that could generate enough power to meet all of the barn's energy needs over the course of a year. The second array, near the farm's high-tunnel greenhouses, will provide about three-quarters of the energy needed to operate those facilities. The farm's more than 300 solar panels will supply about the same amount of energy it takes to power 10 homes per year, Wegmans said.
"Thanks to the solar panels, our barn and high-tunnel greenhouses will extend the growing season at very little energy cost," noted Eben Kennedy, produce group manager overseeing the farm. "That’s a triple win for us: it's good for the environment, good for the business and good for people."
"We'll learn more about how this technology works for us and make better decisions in the future about when and where solar energy makes sense," added Wadsworth.
Family-owned Wegmans operates 84 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts.