SUMMERVILLE, Ga. — Even under Thursday morning’s overcast skies, the new 1,400-panel solar array perched on the roof of a Mohawk Industries building was generating power.
The array can produce up to 628,000 kilowatt-hours a year, roughly enough to power around 55 homes annually.
The project was a coming-together of flooring manufacturer Mohawk, clean energy firm Constellation, solar infrastructure firm United Renewable Energy LLC and utility provider Georgia Power.
Officials from all four were on hand Thursday morning to celebrate the new array’s unveiling.
Mohawk is leasing roof space at its Summerville plant to Constellation, which will own and operate the solar array.
A team from Alpharetta, Ga.-based United Renewable installed the array for Constellation, and Georgia Power is buying the power produced and pushing it back into Summerville.
Georgia Power has been seeking private parties across the state to join in solar production, not by mandating solar array construction, but through the utility’s Advanced Solar Initiative, which offers incentive pricing and rate programs for participants.
Murray Weaver, regional vice president of Georgia Power, said “the state’s program is “a model for the rest of the nation.”
“We see this as one of the arrows in the quiver,” he said of the Mohawk-Constellation array.
William Silva, president and CEO of United Renewable Energy, showed a live reading of the solar panels’ production on his iPhone Thursday morning.
The panels were producing about a quarter of their maximum potential under the gray skies.
“So they work,” Silva joked. “But they don’t work well at night.”
The array will peak in the afternoon, on clear days, he said.
Jenny Cross, vice president of corporate sustainability at Calhoun, Ga.-based Mohawk, said the company put in applications to participate in Georgia Power’s solar program, and the Summerville location was the spot drawn by the utility provider.
The Summerville site is now the first Mohawk-owned facility to be outfitted with solar panels.
Cross said solar technology has reached a point where it finally makes financial sense for private companies to invest.
“This our first foray into solar,” she said.
She said that “as it makes economic sense to do so” Mohawk will venture farther into incorporating renewable energy at its facilities.
The energy produced by the new Summerville solar panels will be sold back to Georgia Power, but Cross said it’s not out of the question to someday have on-site solar infrastructure producing energy for on-site plant consumption.
“It’s a nice start,” she said Thursday.
Mohawk’s Summerville plant is also home to the world’s largest integrated plastic bottle recycling facility. Officials aim to reduce the plant’s overall environmental impact by 2020.
Mohawk is the world’s biggest manufacturer of rugs, ceramic tile and laminate floors.
Contact staff writer Alex Green at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6480.