Alstom goes solar, unveils $480,000 solar installation

Alstom goes solar, unveils $480,000 solar installation

March 28th, 2012 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Robert Hicks, project manager at Alstom, speaks Tuesday about the newly installed solar panel array in the parking lot at Alstom in Chattanooga. The solar panels were turned on Feb. 9 and there will be a dedication ceremony on Wednesday.

Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse /Times Free Press.

Alstom, a company known in Chattanooga for making nuclear, steam and natural gas power plant components, is going solar in the Scenic City.

Today, the Paris-based company will unveil a $480,000 solar installation constructed on its Riverfront Parkway parking lot.

"We wanted to use it to show what we're trying to do here," said Robert Hicks, a project manager for Alstom's boiler and thermal services business in the city.

Alstom officials noted the company is involved in producing energy efficient components and doing it in an environmentally friendly way.

"We're walking the talk," said Tim Brown, Alstom's communications director in the United States and Canada.

Brown said the solar array, which uses 234 panels, is somewhat unique for an Alstom plant companywide, though the big multinational business has investments in a range of clean energy technologies.

Hicks said the 56.16 kilowatt system can produce 75,000 kilowatt hours of electricity over a year. That's enough to provide electricity for nearly 7 homes for a year, he said.

Hicks said there was talk internally about putting the solar site on top of the roof of its boiler operation, which recently was revamped and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

But, he said, officials wanted to show off the installation, which acts as covered parking for a section of the company lot.

"It's bold out here," Hicks said.

He said the power generated by the solar system is fed back into the electrical grid and the company receives credits from the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Hicks said Alstom received grants from the Tennessee Solar Institute and Chattanooga Greenspaces for the project.

John Sanseverino, TSI's programs director, said Alstom is one example of how the Institute accomplishes its goal of expanding the use of solar energy and growing the industry in the state.

More than 6.7 megawatts of solar have been installed utilizing TSI's solar installation grant program, he said. Also, more than $25 million in private dollars have been leveraged, and the program has logged more than 94,000 job hours, the official said.

Hicks said the solar panels were produced by Sharp Manufacturing in Memphis.

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