Local Power Shines as Crayola Goes Solar

crayolaThere might be a new emphasis on yellow and maybe even burnt sienna from Crayola now that it’s engaged the sun to help it make about one billion crayons annually.

The colorful maker of children’s art and stationery products, based in Easton, PA, is going solar in a big way.

It recently signed an agreement with with two local companies, PPL Corporation of Allentown and UGI Energy Services Inc. of Reading, to build a 15-acre solar panel park aadjacent to the Crayola’s main plant in Forks Township.

Full financial details of the deal were not disclosed, but about $1.5 million in stimulus funds are part of the mix. The project is on a fast track: Construction is expected to begin next month and at least a portion of the facility will generate electricity by early 2010.

More than 26,000 fixed photovoltaic solar panels will generate 1.5 megawatts of electrical power and provide about 10 percent of Crayola’s total annual energy consumption and about one-third of tine energy to make 3 billion crayons annually.

Aside from the big boost to renewable energy, the project also highlights what companies working together at the local level can accomplish.

“This is a great partnership of local companies working together to provide alternate sources of energy and help Crayola provide ‘greener’ products to our consumers,” says Pete Ruggiero, Crayola’s executive vice president of Global Operations.

As part of the agreement, PPL and UGI will lease 15 acres of property adjacent to Crayola’s manufacturing facility and provide the funding and resources to design, build and operate the park. Crayola will buy the generated power.

PPL and UGI will share the renewable energy credits provided by Pennsylvania to developers and operators of environmentally sustainable projects that provide new renewable energy.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a $1.5 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to fund a portion of the solar park.

“The Stimulus Act funding powers along with the Sun and Crayola crayons, creates jobs right now to build this large solar facility, protects the jobs already at Crayola, and produces pollution-free electricity for years to come,” said John Hanger, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.  “The future of both Crayola and solar power is as bright as the Sun.”

As part of the project, a solar energy educational display will be developed at the Crayola Factory in downtown Easton, which attracts nearly 300,000 visitors annually. During the past 10 years at its Lehigh Valley, PA manufacturing facilities, the company says it has reduced natural gas usage by 19 percent, electricity by 11 percent and waste reduction by 40 percent. It also recycles 70 percent of its potential waste.

PPL has developed renewable energy projects that total more than 40 megawatts of generation, or enough to power 30,000 homes. These include solar panel installations and landfill gas projects in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

UGI Energy Services, a unit of UGI Corporation (NYSE:UGI), is a regionally focused energy marketer that serves more than 21,000 commercial, institutional and industrial facilities.

Color this one a green win-win-win and join in a rousing rendition of “Here Comes the Sun.”

writer, editor, reader and general good (ok mostly good, well sometimes good) guy trying to get by

One response

  1. It’s really encouraging to see some of that American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding get put into action within a year of distribution. Solar investment is just that – offsetting the start up costs with the long term benefits and savings.

    I hope big business can see that it’s achievable as the benefits are huge.


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