Designed, engineered and installed by Old Bridge, N.J.-based GeoGenix, the system is housed on the first level of Sutherland's two-story, 90,000-square-foot headquarters located at 254 Brighton Road, which consists of office, warehouse and distribution spaces. The system, which was recently installed, will offset approximately 50 percent of Sutherland's electricity usage.
Founded in 1964 by Gene Sutherland, Sutherland Packaging, which employs about 50 people, manufactures corrugated boxes and high-end product displays, from boxes for shipping to high-end, five-color supermarket product displays. The company produces all of its products in-house, using a high tech, five-color printing press and diecutter, a machine that cuts and prints boxes and displays.
Sutherland Packaging's solar system was installed under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), a third-party financing model that allows property owners to receive the benefits of solar without any upfront cost. The PPA provider, Hudson Energy Solar Corp., will own and operate the system, and sell the electricity to the "host" (Sutherland Packaging) at a discounted rate. Hudson Energy Solar Corp., a subsidiary of Just Energy Group Inc., is a specialist in providing municipal, commercial and residential customers with renewable energy solutions.
A PPA also allows business and property owners to lock in electricity rates, thus serving as a hedge against rising electricity costs. As part of Sutherland Packaging's PPA agreement, Hudson Energy was able to wrap in the cost of roof improvements.
"We're happy to announce the completion of Sutherland Packaging's solar system," said Gaurav Naik, co-owner and principal of GeoGenix. "By installing solar, Sutherland took a major step for the environment while also helping to lower its operating expenses without any upfront cost. And they were able to get an improved roof out of it as well."
Under the PPA agreement, Hudson Energy Solar Corp. will retain ownership of the system for 15 years. After 15 years, Sutherland Packaging will have the option of assuming ownership of the system, thus receiving free electricity for the remainder of the system's life, which is more than 25 years.
"We are proud to partner with Sutherland Packaging as they move towards a more environmentally sustainable operating model," said Abe Grohman, chief executive officer of Hudson Energy Solar Corp. "We expect Sutherland to gain from significant long term benefits both in terms of environmental and financial savings."
"We consume a lot of energy in our business, and we are always looking for ways to operate more efficiently and be more environmentally friendly," said Robert Roberts, vice president of plant operations.
Roberts explained that the company had looked into solar a few years ago, but abandoned the idea of ownership when the purchase of the expensive printing press and die cutter and the related plant upgrades ruled out a large investment in a solar system. The PPA option from Hudson Energy, however, meant that Sutherland could pursue solar without any upfront cost.
"It was a win-win situation for Sutherland," he said. "We were able to benefit from solar by producing clean, renewable energy and paying less for electricity than we had previously paid to our utility without any upfront costs, and we also got free roof improvements."
Sutherland's other green initiatives include installing energy-efficient fluorescent lighting and an energy-efficient HVAC system. They also installed an ink recycling system that conserves water and recycles the ink, which would otherwise have to be shipped offsite to be properly disposed of.
Other cost-effective energy measures that Sutherland is currently looking into include using natural gas for heating and using electric forklifts.
The company's solar system is comprised of over 2,548 panels, which will produce 630,000-kilowatt hours of electricity, or the equivalent to the reduction of about 863,100 pounds of CO2 emissions per year, which equates to offsetting the power demand of 97 homes for one year, planting 10,140 trees or removing 71 cars from the road annually.
GeoGenix is an industry leader with a proven track record in residential and commercial solar installations. They are an East Coast pioneer of "community solar," which allows residents of a community to band together to purchase solar for their individual homes at a discount. The firm's many achievements include being awarded the "Outstanding Customer Service" in 2010 by SunPower and installing the first "net zero" electric commercial building in the nation. While there are many new entrants in the solar business, GeoGenix has been installing solar since 2001 and has the experience and expertise that have made it one of the region's most trusted solar installers. For more information, visit the GeoGenix website at www.geogenix.com.