LEESPORT, Pa. – Ashley Furniture Inds. has completed installation of one of the nation’s largest rooftop solar energy installations at its production and distribution facility here.
The move is part of a commitment Ashley made early last year to a multi-phase effort to reduce the company’s energy footprint. Already, rooftop solar systems have been constructed and commissioned on two other Ashley distribution and retail centers in Romeoville, Ill., and Lathrop, Calif. Mobilization has started on the next two facilities in Redlands and Colton, Calif.
Soon, the 28,776 roof-mounted solar panels on Ashley’s Leesport operation will produce more than 9.6 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. This is roughly equivalent to the amount of power consumed by 786 average American households in a year.
Few rooftop solar systems of this magnitude exist in the United States. According to solar PV installation records tracked by Solar Energy Industries Assn., the national trade association for the U.S. solar industry, the project is the largest rooftop solar energy system in the state of Pennsylvania and ranks among the largest commercial rooftop solar installations in the nation.
The Leesport facility’s current annual electrical energy consumption exceeds 10 million kWh, and solar is expected to offset 90% of the facility’s electrical energy needs.
“The solar panel project we have at Ashley is just one more example of Ashley’s sustainability efforts for our global marketplace and local communities,” said Todd Wanek, president and CEO of Ashley. “Besides reducing our company’s energy footprint, we’re also able to save on energy costs which, in turn, can be passed along to our customers.”
Ashley partnered with SunPeak, a leading developer in the solar industry, to design and install the solar systems.
“The project is noteworthy for its scale,” noted Tim Paap a professional engineer and SunPeak’s director of project execution for SunPeak. “It can be difficult to comprehend just how large the system is when you talk about megawatts of power. The entire system takes up 580,000 square feet, or more than 10 football fields, and produces as much power as two locomotives. And it’s on the roof of a facility that would otherwise be unutilized.”
“We need a lot of energy to manufacture our products and it only makes sense to use renewable sources,” said Ashley founder and Chairman Ron Wanek. “This is a long-term investment, not only for Ashley, but for our environment. We are taking proactive steps and hope to see others in our industry join us.”
Ashley’s solar energy initiative will support the company’s advanced manufacturing and warehousing operations, which include IoT (internet of things) systems, automation and robotics, and battery-powered industrial vehicles.