A major solar project is now up and running in Sussex County.
A six-acre field of solar panels is now energized and providing power to Allen Harim's poultry processing plant in Harbeson,
officials announced Monday.
The company also pledged to use some of the savings realized from the renewable energy project to create an endowed scholarship fund for the children of employees and growers to give them an opportunity to attend college.
According to the company, the 1.57MW, multi-million dollar solar project features 4,992 solar panels, and is projected to generate 2.3 million kWh of power each year, while reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 1,616 metric tons every year.
The project was developed by Alternative Energy Development Group and is owned and operated by Onyx Renewable Partners. Allen Harim has agreed to purchase 100% of the power produced from the project under a 20-year power purchase agreement, and the system is live and interconnected to the Delmarva Power grid.
"This is another exciting environmental project for our company here in Harbeson and we are grateful to all our partners for making it happen," said Joe Moran, President and CEO of Allen Harim. Moran says the energy produced by the solar panels will supply about 11 to 12 percent of the energy used at the Harbeson facility.
"Some people seem to think we have to choose between having a cleaner, stronger environment and having a robust economy. I disagree. It is possible to pursue policies that protect our environment and public health, while creating jobs and growing our economy," said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, ranking member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. "By pursuing clean and green energy, businesses like Allen Harim can reduce energy costs and be more competitive. I'm also so very pleased that Allen Harim will reinvest in its employees by using some of the savings toward college scholarships. That's a true commitment to our local community."
At a ribbon cutting on Monday, Chris Fraga, Founder and CEO of Alternative Energy Development Group, presented a check for $10,000 through the company's Watts for Wishes charitable giving program to establish the Allen Harim Legacy Scholarship fund. Allen Harim will provide a $10,000 matching gift, and set up an endowed fund through the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore. Officials from APPI Energy, a commercial energy consulting group, also donated $1,500 toward the establishment of the fund.
The Allen Harim Legacy Scholarship will provide $2,500 scholarships for children of employees and growers to attend college or trade schools. The company plans to use the savings from the solar project to grow the endowed fund to provide up to five scholarships a year. The deadline for application this year will be June 2, 2017.