Walk through a supermarket and it’s easy to imagine how much electricity is needed to run the business. Large refrigerated displays keep vegetables, meats and fish cold. Ice cream and frozen products are kept in freezers. The ceiling is lined with lights. “Refrigeration is the killer,” said Mark Norkus, vice president of Norkus Enterprises, a Point Pleasant Beach company that operates seven Foodtowns in Monmouth and Ocean counties. Norkus Enterprises is in the midst of a project to put solar panels atop six stores, enough to supply an estimated 5 percent of the stores’ total electricity needs, said Jamie Hahn, managing director of Solis Partners LLC, a Wall-based company that designs and installs commercial solar projects.
“They will be producing some energy,” Mark Norkus. “We will be able to hedge our energy costs to some degree.”
Work on four stores is complete, with the remainder expected to be finished by April 1, Hahn said. All told, the 2,700 solar panels will generate about 488 kilowatts, which is enough to power 82 homes for a year, he said.
Norkus Foodtown is among a rising number of businesses that are turning the sun’s rays into electricity to lower their electric bills.
Helped by federal stimulus money and financing programs, commercial solar has taken off in New Jersey.
According to figures from the state Board of Public Utilities, 210 projects were installed on commercial buildings last year, generating 34.5 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 4,600 homes for a year.
Since 2001, businesses have put 609 solar projects atop their roofs, of which 87 are in Monmouth County and 47 in Ocean County.
“At a time when the economy is in the toilet, this program is growing and growing at leaps and bounds,” said Michael Winka, director of the BPU’s office of clean energy.
Solar panels sit on the roofs of Costcos in Hazlet and Stafford, Macy’s in Freehold Township and Toms River, Clayton Block in Lakewood and Mazza & Sons Demolition and Recycling in Tinton Falls.
Lackland Self Storage is in the midst of a $15 million project to use solar panels to provide electricity at the company’s 23 locations in New Jersey, including two in Toms River and two in Brick. Read full article in APP.