For more than a century, Crayola has made every color under the sun. Soon, the sun will make those colors when a 15-acre solar farm begins generating electricity next year at the company’s Forks Township headquarters. Construction on the solar project started today during a colorful ground breaking ceremony.
Crayola officials and employees, along with partners PPL Corporation of Allentown and UGI Energy Services Inc., of Reading, were joined by Pa. Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger and state and local elected officials who flanked a giant sun and put colorful shovels to soil to commence construction. When complete, more than 26,000 fixed photovoltaic solar panels will convert sunlight into electricity, generating 1.9 megawatts of electrical power.
The solar facility will provide the energy required to make 1 billion of the 3 billion Crayola crayons the company makes each year. Generating the same amount of electricity with fossil fuels would produce about 1,900 tons of greenhouse gases per year. This reduction of green house emissions is the equivalent of planting 400 acres of pine forest and removing 325 cars from the road.
“Crayola has long been committed to environmental stewardship because it’s especially important to us that today’s kids have a healthy environment for their creative tomorrows,” said Peter Ruggiero, Executive Vice president, Global Operations. “Our solar project is one of many ways Crayola is incorporating social and environmental responsibility into our business to benefit our company, community and consumers.”
Crayola recently formed a partnership with PPL Renewable Energy of Allentown and UGI Energy Services Inc., of Reading, to build the state-of-the-art solar panel facility. A portion of the solar panels will begin generating electricity by spring 2010, in time for the busy back-to-school production season.
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 farm. Crayola has agreed to purchase the generated power. PPL and UGI will share the renewable energy credits provided by Pennsylvania to the developers and operators of environmentally sustainable projects.
“PPL has a long history of generating energy in an environmentally responsible manner and we understand the importance of renewable energy sources such as Crayola’s solar energy park,” said Rick Klingensmith, President, PPL Energy Services Group. “Having successfully developed solar and renewable energy projects throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New England, we are looking forward to increasing the amount of green, renewable energy available right here in our community.”
“This unique partnership demonstrates UGI's commitment to the community in which we serve and environment in which we live,” stated Brad Hall, President of UGI Energy Services. “UGI is committed to the development of creative renewable energy solutions, and is proud to work with Crayola and PPL to make this project a reality.”
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a $1.5 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act or Stimulus Act to fund a portion of the solar project. “The Stimulus Act funding, 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 Secretary Hanger. “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. The exhibit will showcase the accomplishments of the solar partnership and demonstrate solar energy’s potential in Pennsylvania