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Posted at 02:26 PM ET, 09/15/2011

Washington Redskins go ‘green’ with solar panels at FedEx


FedEx Field’s parking lot and the area outside the stadium now sport 8,000 solar panels. (Jeremy Borden - WASHINGTON POST)

The Washington Redskins unveiled Thursday what the team said was the biggest solar energy installation at a National Football League stadium.

NRG Energy, a Princeton, New Jersey-based power generation company, has nearly completed the 8,000 solar panels that are estimated to provide up to 20 percent of FedEx Field’s energy on game days and 100 percent on non-game days, depending on weather conditions, according to the company. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder said fans won’t notice a difference on game day.

Ten electric vehicle charging stations will also be made available for public use and are free of charge. The stations are located near the NRG entrance gate and Platinum A1 parking lot.

Television football host James Brown kicked off the event at the Redskins stadium in Prince George’s County, Md., telling the crowd, “I am a native Washingtonian and a diehard Redskins fan.”

Brown and Snyder sat alongside Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md.; NRG CEO David Crane; and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker at the event Thursday.

Crane and Snyder both declined to name the project’s price tag. Competitors could use the cost of the project as an unfair advantage, Crane said. NRG financed the project completely, Crane said, and no public financing was used.

The company owns and operates the panels, while the Redskins pay the company based on its power usage.


Sportscaster James Brown kicked off the unveiling of the new solar panels. (Jeremy Borden - WASHINGTON POST)
Snyder told reporters that Baker and others were helpful in ushering through the necessary permits and approvals from the county. The project agreement between NRG and the Redskins was signed in May, and the unveiling Thursday marked a faster-than-normal completion, Crane said.

The solar panels are placed on top of the Platinum A1 section of the FedEx Field parking lot and along the outside of the stadium. A few panels were missing from a pedestrian ramp on Thursday, but are expected to be installed shortly, according to NRG company officials.

An estimated 350 people were employed in the green energy effort, Crane said.

At the moment, the Redskins won’t save much money on their electricity bill, but that could change over time.

“Right now electricity in this country is historically cheap,” Crane said. “This is a fixed price for electricity for 20 years.”

NRG currently has a nine-year deal to provide energy to the Redskins. That deal, however, could be extended to 20 years, Crane said.

The solar installation is the biggest in the D.C. metro area.

Other teams have embraced “green” energy ­-- including the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles.

The Eagles’ plan is to combine the use of on-site wind turbines, solar and bio-fuel systems at Lincoln Financial Field to generate as much as 8.6 megawatts of power upon completion, according to David Krichavsky, the NFL’s director of media affairs. The stadium at its peak uses roughly 7 megawatts of power.

The Seattle Seahawks in May began installing a 2.5-acre solar array on the Qwest Field event center next to the football team’s stadium. The 3,750 panel system won’t power all of Qwest Field, but will enable the Seahawks to cut their energy costs by 21 percent, according to Clean Energy Authority, an organization that tracks developments in solar technology and the solar energy industry.

NRG Energy’s stock price was up nearly three percent late Thursday afternoon.


The panels will cover the stadium’s energy needs on non-game days, according to NRG solar power company. (Jeremy Borden - WASHINGTON POST)

By  |  02:26 PM ET, 09/15/2011

 
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