Amazon says it just flipped switch on N.J.’s largest rooftop solar array

Source: By Luke Nozick, • Posted: Thursday, August 31, 2017

CARTERET — Amazon on Tuesday unveiled what the company says is the largest rooftop solar panel energy system in New Jersey on the 30-acre roof of its Carteret warehouse.

The 22,000-solar-panel system will power the online retailer’s facility. The company said it is one of the largest rooftop solar panel systems in the country and generates enough electricity to power 600 homes.

Inside the facility, 3,000 employees work with 900 robots on a million-square-foot floor and a mezzanine to prepare and package products sold by Amazon.

Before a tour of the building, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-6th Dist., and center workers signed a solar panel that will be hung at the site.

New Jersey is on the forefront of solar energy, Pallone said, though there is more to be done. He said it is important for states to reduce greenhouse gases, especially since President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

“We’ll do more to try to promote solar and wind power,” he said, adding that the Garden State could create jobs by manufacturing solar panels here. “New Jersey can be the leader.”

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The solar panel system was created with two-and-a-half million pounds of materials and at its peak — during a sunny day in the summer — can create 7.5 million watts of power, said Tom Chandlee, Amazon’s program manager for renewable energy.

The energy will power everything in the center, which operates 24 a day, from lighting to heating and conditioning.

Amazon officials declined to disclose the cost. The installation was completed from February to August. Building the system was a collaboration from multiple companies, including Sol Systems and IGS Solar.

“It’s been a really challenging and long experience to build something like this,” Sol Systems CEO Yuri Horwitz said. “The end result is pretty elegant and magnificent at the same time.”

After the tour, Pallone commended Amazon and said the solar panels are another way to lessen the state’s dependence on fossil fuels.

In answering questions from reporters, the congressman then described recent remarks made by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz as awful. Cruz is seeking federal aid for victims of Hurricane Harvey despite opposing similar measures after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

During an interview Monday on MSNBC, Cruz said the Sandy federal emergency relief bill was “filled with unrelated pork.” He said two-thirds of the bill was unrelated to the hurricane, one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.

Pallone described the Texas congressman’s comments as nonsense and said they further show the importance of the recently installed solar panels.

“A lot of these Republicans, particularly from the West and the South, they don’t believe in climate change,” Pallone said. “Harvey is just another indication that climate change is real and these storms are going to be more severe.”

“This is the sixth year … it became the hottest weather nationally and worldwide, so you know, you’re just kidding yourself if you think that climate change is not real,” he added.