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Sunbrella to feature largest solar array under Sunsense
01
Jun '11
Glen Raven Inc has begun construction of a solar energy installation on the roof of its Sunbrella Yarn Manufacturing Center in Norlina, N.C. The solar array will be the largest under Progress Energy's SunSense Commercial PV (photovoltaic) program, generating electric power roughly equivalent to the annual electricity usage of 47 typical homes.

The $3 million project includes replacing the plant's 175,000-square-foot roof with a highly-reflective white roof that will not only enhance the performance of solar panels, but also improve cooling inside the plant. Completion of the solar installation is anticipated this fall.

"This project demonstrates how a well-designed environmental program can have multiple benefits," said Leib Oehmig, president of Glen Raven Custom Fabrics, the Glen Raven subsidiary that operates the plant and manufactures and markets Sunbrella fabrics for awning, furniture and marine applications. "When this project is completed, our plant will have an energy-efficient roof hosting a solar system that will also serve as a long-term provider of renewable electricity to Progress Energy and its customers."

Glen Raven gave the Norlina solar energy project a green light because of several factors that made the project both financially and environmentally feasible - new photovoltaic technology, federal and state tax credits and a commitment by Progress Energy to purchase solar-generated power.

"While conventional solar panels only capture light directly from the sun, the photovoltaic panels we are installing at Norlina Plant are an open grid design, which processes solar energy from 360 degrees, which greatly increases their energy generation capacity," said John Gant, manager of sustainable development for Glen Raven Custom Fabrics.

This project was made possible by Progress Energy's SunSense Commercial Solar PV program, designed to encourage the development of renewable energy by offering a premium price for solar power developed on commercial rooftops. At 500 kilowatts (kW), the Glen Raven Norlina array will be the largest array under this program.

Progress Energy has more than 100,000 kW of renewable energy under contract in North Carolina to help meet the requirements of the state's renewable portfolio standard. This standard, passed in 2007, requires utilities to generate a percentage of their retail electricity sales from renewable energy resources.

"We believe solar power will play an important role in a balanced generation portfolio," said Lloyd Yates, president and CEO of Progress Energy Carolinas. "We are committed to addressing the challenges of growing energy demand, rising costs and global climate change with a balanced approach that includes investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and a state-of-the-art system. We are proud to partner with Glen Raven on this innovative project."

Glen Raven has operated the Norlina Plant since 1984, with a current workforce of 153.

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