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North Face installs 1MW Solar Energy System
Nov '08
The North Face, the world's premier supplier of authentic, innovative and technically advanced outdoor apparel, equipment and footwear, announced the completion of a 1MW solar electricity system at its West Coast distribution center located in Visalia, California.

The system, which will power 25-30 percent of the energy needs of the facility, was designed, engineered and installed by Suntech Energy Solutions (formerly EI Solutions), and is financed, owned and operated by Recurrent Energy, a distributed power company and the pioneer in Solar as a ServiceSM. One hundred percent of the electricity will be sold to The North Face under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) from Recurrent Energy.

The solar energy system is part of The North Face's broader climate change strategy complementing its membership with the US Environmental Protection Agency Climate Leaders program and a separate agreement with Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF). The agreement, to offset 100 percent of the CO2 emissions associated with energy use for The North Face's North American operations, is through purchase of Green-e® Climate-certified carbon offsets from wind energy projects.

“We are deeply committed to exploring new and creative solutions for energy reduction and utilizing this implementation to foster energy education throughout the local community,” said Steve Rendle, president of The North Face. “Through our partnership with Recurrent Energy and Suntech Energy Solutions, we are proud to be hosting a tremendously innovative system that will yield above-average energy production and financial savings.”

“We're extremely pleased to be announcing the completion of our project today - it's a perfect example of the emerging opportunity we see in distributed power,” said Arno Harris, CEO of Recurrent Energy. “There is a massive need for clean generation located close to where power is actually used, and customers like The North Face are playing a key role in making that vision a reality.”

Suntech Energy Solutions' innovative design locates the system over a storm water retention area on the property, allowing for its dual use and providing a buffer to adjacent properties. By protecting the retention function of the area, the design negates the need for a new drainage system, while at the same time provides a clean, noise-free use of the land.

Another key feature in the system's design is the use of RayTracker GC single-axis solar trackers, on which 5,504 Suntech photovoltaic (PV) panels are mounted.. By tracking the sun as it moves, RayTracker will keep the PV panels focused on the sun's rays, thereby maximizing the amount of energy produced by each panel and increasing the system's return on investment. The new ground-mounted system is located adjacent to VF Corporations' (The North Face's parent company) 800,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art distribution center.

“This project is a great accomplishment for us and for The North Face, a company highly regarded for its commitment to social responsibility and the environment, as well as for its innovative use of technology in its products,” said Andrew Beebe, managing director for Suntech Energy Solutions. “Along with Recurrent Energy, we look forward to expanding the potential of solar power adoption.”

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