Verizon Set to Become Largest Solar Producer in Telecom Industry

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Verizon is planning to invest nearly $40 million to expand the onsite green energy program that it first launched in 2013. This year, Verizon plans to install 10.2 MW of new solar systems at eight of its network facilities in five states – California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. This investment nearly doubles the amount of energy generated by Verizon’s solar systems.

With the nation’s largest wireless carrier having already deployed 14.2 MW of clean energy with fuel cells and solar, the 2014 solar investment will put Verizon on target to deploy upward of 25 MW of green energy upon completion of the projects. The systems are expected to generate enough energy to power more than 8,500 homes each year, offsetting 22,000 metric tons of CO2 annually.

“Our investment in on-site green energy is improving the quality of life in the communities we serve by reducing CO2 levels and reducing strain on commercial power grids, while increasing our energy efficiency,” said James Gowen, Verizon’s chief sustainability officer. “By almost doubling the amount of renewable, solar energy we’re using, we are making further progress toward Verizon’s goal of cutting our carbon intensity in half by 2020, in part, by leveraging the proven business case for clean-energy alternatives to the commercial power grid.”

Of course the real motivation is financial. Gowen also told Greentech Media the move is about “driving shareholder value,” given that solar power can provide reliable savings.

This addition puts Verizon on track to become the No. 1 solar-power producer among all U.S. communications companies, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

“This is a significant investment by Verizon, which will provide a boost to the economy, as well as the environment,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. “Long a world leader in communications services, Verizon is quickly becoming a leader in the deployment of green energy, too. When these projects are completed, Verizon will have nearly 16 MW of installed solar capacity, ranking it among the Top 10 companies in the United States. We commend Verizon on its commitment to the environment, and doing what’s best for current and future customers.”

Sunpower will design and construct the systems, which will consist of rooftop, parking structure, and ground-mounted systems.

“With this milestone investment, Verizon is advancing its position among the handful of corporate leaders demonstrating how American businesses can serve their communities and control energy costs with on-site solar power generation,” said Howard Wenger, SunPower president, business units. “We are very pleased to extend our partnership with Verizon, helping the company lower the long-term cost of energy at more facilities with SunPower’s high performance technology and services.”