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Queens Chronicle

Beverage distribution giant goes fully green

Big Geyser in Maspeth completes solar panel installation project

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Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:14 am, Thu Sep 12, 2013.

Big Geyser, a distributor of nonalcoholic beverages in Maspeth, has installed a 408-kilowatt solar-power system that is expected to produce enough power to meet all the company’s energy needs.

“As long as the sun rises, this project yields an attractive and predictable return on our investment for at least the next 25 years,” said Big Geyser’s chief financial officer, Rich Richer, in a statement. “As a privately owned company, we can take the longer view and look for investments of this quality. We see a positive public benefit by reducing demand on the energy grid, as well as reducing our utility bills.”

Big Geyser distributes for major beverage companies including Vitaminwater, Smartwater, Monster Energy Drink, Nesquik, SunnyD, Honest Tea and Apple & Eve.

In addition to a fully solar-powered factory, EmPower Solar — which installed the panels — expects the project will produce enough energy to charge electric forklifts and delivery trucks.

The electric-powered automobiles will further reduce demand for the high-cost propane and diesel fuels that many factories require to operate.

The project was delayed for six months after Hurricane Sandy. Installation commenced in April and was completed last Friday.

EmPower paired the 408-kilowatt solar array with inverters to produce 440,000 kilowatt-hours.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority provided funding assistance and financial incentives for Big Geyser through its competitive Photovoltaic Program and its Solar Electric Incentive Program.

“Big Geyser is to be commended for not just installing enough solar power to run its factory but also for planning for the future needs of an electric vehicle-based delivery fleet,” said Francis Murray Jr., president and CEO of NYSERDA. “The company is a true partner in the state’s efforts under Governor Cuomo to increase the amount of solar in its renewable energy portfolio while reducing business expenses through investments in clean energy.

Five years ago, Big Geyser partnered with Howard Ehrenshaft of Energy Conservation Group of America and NYSERDA on a warehouse lighting project. The company recognized it could dramatically reduce energy costs by using solar power. Ehrenshaft helped navigate the maze of several solar proposals, tax credits, grants, and incentives and was able to integrate EmPower Solar’s solution with a cool roof enhancement — a white roof that reduces heat absorption.

“Big Geyser has made a pair of wise business and environmental decisions by choosing solar energy and a white roof for its building,” said Robert Schimmenti, the vice president of engineering and planning for Con Edison. “Solar panels and cool roofs save our customers money, reduce carbon emissions, and help us maintain reliable service when demand for electricity is highest.”

With the new installation, Big Geyser is now eligible for additional savings through a federal tax credit.

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