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Verizon Plans Solar Panels in Basking Ridge, 18 Other Facilities

Company says it plans to cut 'carbon intensity' in half by 2020.

Verizon announced on Tuesday that it will invest $100 million in a solar and fuel-cell energy project that will help power 19 of its facilities in seven states, including the Verizon Center facility off North Maple Avenue in Basking Ridge.

When completed next year, the project will enable Verizon to annually generate more than 70 million kilowatt hours of its own green energy, which the company noted is enough to power more than 6,000 single-family homes a year, while eliminating more than 10,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, said an announcement from the company. That is enough to offset the annual CO2 emissions from more than one million gallons of gas.

Verizon spokesman Lee Gierczynski on Wednesday said that plans are being finalized for the Basking Ridge location, and, ideally, construction will start in the coming weeks with a goal of completion by the end of the year. He did not say how many panels will be installed at the sprawling Verizon building, originally built as the headquarters for AT&T.

He said Verizon's Bedminster location is not part of the planned proje

Gierczynski added he could not yet answer whether the Basking Ridge facility will be one of the Verizon locations to receive an installation of parking canopies that support solar panels. Such an installation is in place on top of the parking garage at the Bridgewater Commons Mall.

The fuel cell and solar products will be installed at a variety of Verizon buildings, including corporate offices, call centers, data centers and central offices, the announcement said. This is the company’s latest move toward reaching its goal of cutting in half by 2020 its carbon intensity — carbon emissions produced per terabyte of data flowing through its networks, according to the company.

Project expected to help enhance service continuity during power outages

“This is a natural evolution of our sustainability efforts and of our use of alternative energy to power a variety of our facilities,” said James Gowen, Verizon’s chief sustainability officer. “These projects will reduce our carbon footprint, relieve demand on the electrical grid and enhance the resiliency of our proven service continuity — even during outages.”

Verizon will work with ClearEdge Power, a manufacturer of scalable, distributed power systems, to install PureCell Model 400 fuel cell systems at Verizon sites in California, New Jersey and New York. The systems will generate more than 60 million kilowatt hours of electricity and result in a carbon reduction of approximately 6,000 metric tons per year, according to the company.

The installation work, ClearEdge’s largest single-user project to date, will begin soon and continue throughout the year, the announcement said.

“We are delighted that Verizon has recognized the value our products and experience can bring to their business operations,” said David B. Wright, ClearEdge Power president and CEO. “This is a very exciting partnership for ClearEdge Power, and we are thrilled to be working with Verizon to help them reach their ambitious sustainability goals.”

Verizon also has also signed a multiyear agreement with SunPower Corp. and is negotiating the deployment of high-efficiency rooftop- and ground-mounted solar photovoltaic systems as well as solar parking canopies at Verizon facilities in California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Arizona and North Carolina. The systems, which will generate approximately 8 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually, are expected to be completed this year and to reduce Verizon’s annual carbon footprint by more than 5,000 metric tons of CO2.

“Verizon and SunPower share a commitment to quality and reliability, and SunPower looks forward to working together to meet Verizon’s long-term renewable energy goals,” said Howard Wenger, SunPower president, regions. “With SunPower’s energy services and high-efficiency systems, Verizon will benefit from clean, solar power generation and cost savings at their facilities.”

Verizon Center in Basking Ridge has U.S. Green Building 'LEED' Certification

Early inSilver certification for the facilities environmentally sound design and efficient energy use last week.

The LEED (Leadership in Environmental Energy and Design) is a "third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings," as described by the USGBC's Web site.

Verizon points to a history of sustainability

The company describes itself as an early adopter of fuel cell technologies, and Verizon currently operates one of the largest fuel cell sites of its kind that helps power an environmentally friendly call-switching center and office building in Garden City, N.Y., the announcement said.

Verizon also uses 26 solar-assisted cell sites in remote areas in the western United States to help power the portion of the nation’s largest and most reliable wireless network serving those areas. 

The announcement added that Verizon has long been focused on energy efficiency and instituting sustainable real estate practices. In March, those efforts were recognized once again when Verizon was named an ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year for its operation of 128 ENERGY STAR-certified Verizon Wireless stores, the announcement said.

In addition, more than 130 Verizon Wireless retail stores nationwide have earned the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification through 2012.

The company said more information about how Verizon is growing its business by applying innovative technologies and addressing social issues is at http://responsibility.verizon.com/.

A video of how fuel cells work is at http://vz.to/ZZnW30.

Photos of solar panels and fuel cells are at http://vz.to/185WpEA. 

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