company Dow Jones is happy to spread the news about the successful 4.1
MW solar project at its South Brunswick, New Jersey,
campus—the largest carport-mounted solar project at a single
commercial site in the U.S.
With newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal and Barron's in its
portfolio, Dow Jones is used to writing about and dis-seminating
financial information worldwide.
the News Corporation owned company began considering a solar project
for its South Brunswick, New Jersey, campus back in 2008, economics
definitely played into the conversation.
big issue for us was convincing ourselves it would work," says Howard
Hoffman, Dow Jones vice president of corporate affairs. "But the
PSE&G solar loan program made the financing of this project
attractive for us. PSE&G was the key to our decision to go
ahead with this." The Public Service Electric and Gas Co
(PSE&G) is New Jersey's oldest and largest publicly owned
SunPower had an effective parking lot solution that made this a very
viable proposal for us," Hoffman added.
The project involves 3.5 megawatts of solar panels mounted on carports
and an additional 622
kilowatts of roof-mount panels on a parking garage.
the time it was dedicated in June, it was the largest carport-mounted
solar project at a single commercial site in the United States.
a sunny day, the project is expected to meet half of Dow Jones' peak
energy needs and save the company $800,000 annually in electricity
costs. It is also expected to have a three-year payback.
spent a lot of time reassuring all of the people involved that the
numbers were valid," Hoffman says of the payback. "It seems hard to
believe that it has a three-year payback."
Jones owns the project, and San Jose, California-based SunPower built
it and maintains it from SunPower's regional office in Trenton, N.J.
South Brunswick campus is Dow Jones' largest and houses several
different operations, including data management, human resources, and
news gathering and reporting.
PSE&G solar loan program to which Hoffman referred typically
involves loaning 40 percent to 60 percent of the cost of a project,
says Fran Sullivan, spokesman for the Newark, N.J.-based utility. The
borrower is able to pay back the loan using solar renewable energy
credits, or SRECs, generated by the project.
SREC prices fluctuate with the market, PSE&G guarantees a floor
value for the life of the loan.
provides the capital that a lot of individuals and companies need to
finance the system," Sullivan says. "The thing that makes it unique is
it provides a ready source of capital and takes a lot of the financing
risk out by putting a floor on the SRECs."
the loan is paid off and its original term has expired, subsequently
generated SRECs belong to the project's owner.
proposals submitted to Dow Jones involved installing roof-mount panels
on five of the campus buildings, Hoffman says. Unfortunately, he says,
the rooftops were too old or had too many protrusions to make it work.
2010, SunPower answered a request for proposals that featured
installing about 230,000 square feet of covered carports on which 3.5
MW of solar panels were to be mounted. The proposal also involved
installing an additional 622 kilowatts of roof-mount PV panels atop a
the 4.1 MW project will meet about 15 percent of Dow Jones' electricity
needs on the South Brunswick campus and maximize the use of the parking
thought about covering the grass but decided in the end that the green
is important too, and decided not to extend the installation beyond the
parking area and the parking garage," Hoffman says.
studies showed where the carports should be situated to maximize
generation. Areas with too much slope or shading were ruled out,
was broken in June 2010, and construction began about a month later.
South Brunswick campus operates 24/7 and is home to 2,000 employees,
which could have created challenges during carport installation. But
problems were avoided through constant communication between
representatives from Dow Jones, the different contractors, and
employees, says Scott Moss, president of Moss & Associates of
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who worked with SunPower and oversaw
is huge," Moss says. "If people feel they're part of the project, they
usually aren't negative about the project."
warned commuters of pending parking lot closures, and security officers
also helped ensure the safety of both Dow Jones employees and project
fact, Moss says, his firm has built much more difficult projects in
much tighter confines than the Dow Jones campus.
was an easier job than a high-rise condo or high-rise office in a
downtown area," Moss says. "It's something we're used to doing.
Dow Jones project on the company's South Brunswick, New Jersey, campus
involves 3.5 megawatts of solar panels mounted on carports and an
additional 622 kilowatts of roof-mount panels on a parking garage. The
SunPower panels were mounted on Premium carport canopies from Solaire
Generation. (Photo courtesy of Solaire Generation.)
"Trucks are sited a mile away. You don't have more than one truck on
site. As you are taking material off, you never store it on site, so
you don't have to take up a lot of space."
Throughout construction, at least 2,000 parking spaces had to be kept
available for employees. To achieve this, the canopies were erected in
phases, and parking lot closures were rotated.
Hoffman says he expected to hear complaints from Dow Jones employees,
especially when a series of snow storms hit the area. But he was
pleasantly surprised by the mostly positive reaction.
"I think employees understood this sacrifice was worth it for the
company and for the employees," he says.
As part of its proposal, SunPower recommended the patented Premium
carport canopy from
Solaire Generation of New York, N.Y.
"SunPower knew which one was the most attractive and which one
performed the best," Moss says. "It was the best of form and function,
because there are a lot of different carports out there that don't look
nearly as slick and high class. These are the Mercedes, as are
Laurence Mackler, CEO of Solaire Generation, took Moss' comparison one
step further and says the carports are also built with the same safety
philosophy as Mercedes cars.
The carport supports, for example, are encased in a band of reinforced
concrete two feet high to protect them from impacts from fully loaded
cars. The conduits are also encased in concrete to protect them from
corrosion due to road salt and car emissions.
All of the metal structure is made from hot-rolled steel that resists
rust rather than light gauge steel.
The carports are what Mackler describes as "PV component agnostic,"
meaning they will accept nearly any manufacturer's panel ranging from
thin film to mono- and polycrystalline.
In this case, about 11,000 Sun-Power high-efficiency E
19/315mo-nocrystalline panels were mounted on the carports, says
SunPower project development manager Michael Peters.
The Premium carport canopy used on the project features Solaire
Generation's patented dual-incline design. It is engineered to meet
wind as well as snow loading.
Underground, spread footing of poured concrete anchored the carports.
Solaire Generation designed, fabricated, and engineered the carports,
Altogether, the Dow Jones project involved 25 rows of canopies, each
with an average length of 200 feet. No parking spaces were lost to the
canopies because the supports are only 18 inches wide.
"If you were to take the canopies and put them end to end, you'd have
over a mile of solar canopies," Mackler says.
Atop the parking garage were installed SunPower T5 Solar Roof
Tiles—a non-penetrating rooftop product that combines a
high-efficiency solar panel, frame, and mounting system into a
The T5 is tilted at a five degree angle, which nearly doubles energy
generation per square foot compared to systems that are mounted flat.
At the same time, it features an aerodynamic, self-ballasted design
that resists high winds and water runoff, Peters says.
Satcon inverters convert the DC current into AC. Because Dow Jones
participated in the PSE&G loan program, the PV project must be
With the construction industry being down and New Jersey a leader in
solar projects, Moss says finding workers who had experience in solar
installation was not a problem.
Because of the way the carports were fabricated, they were essentially
erected in assembly-line fashion. As the workers became more familiar
with the process, they also became more efficient, he says.
Much of the construction occurred during the winter, which Moss
described as "rough."
One storm dumped 21 inches of snow in one day on the main Dow Jones
Nevertheless, construction finished ahead of schedule, so the project
was actually brought online in two phases. About 2.5 MW, or 60 percent
of the project, went live in late December 2010. The rest of the
project was completed in March.
The project was dedicated in June.
News Corporation acquired Dow Jones in December 2007, and with the new
owner came its Cool Change initiative. The goal is to become carbon
neutral, using 2006 emissions as a baseline.
Through 2010, Dow Jones already had reduced carbon emissions by 14
percent, and that doesn't include realized benefits from the solar
project, Hoffman says.
"We did a lot of things long before solar to make our operation more
energy efficient," Hoffman says. "It's just the nature of modern
In fact, the company's commitment to the environment dates back to the
1970s when it started recycling newsprint from printing plants and
reducing hazardous waste emissions. During the next 30 years, Dow Jones
strived to reduce use of energy and other resources while improving its
efficiency, Hoffman says.