UPDATE: Stewart's Shops' Gary Dake on 'Stewart's-Ship' (Video)

Retailer's decision to go with solar now "makes economic sense, environmental sense"

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- Stewart's Shops, the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) and EnterSolar have announced the start of "Stewart's Shops Solar Liftoff," an installation of a large, rooftop solar energy system atop Stewart's 300,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution center in Greenfield Center, N.Y.

This 600-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system, part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's NY-Sun initiative, will offset electricity from the grid used by the Stewart's center and is projected to save nearly $40,000 annually in electricity costs. The company expects installation to be completed this fall, and it expects a payback period of 5.6 years.

"As an employee and family-owned business, Stewart's has a strong commitment to the community, and utilizing clean renewable solar energy to power our manufacturing and distribution facility is a natural extension of that pledge," said Nancy Trimbur, senior vice president of Stewart's Shops. "With significant savings in energy costs annually, we can not only reduce our carbon footprint, but we can also reinvest those savings in the business and community that we serve."

The project, which is being installed by EnterSolar, is funded in part through NYSERDA's Competitive PV Program.

Stewart's is committed to its communities and to sustainability. Its practices include an extensive recycling program for more than four and a half million pounds of cardboard, office paper, plastic, metal and light bulbs each year. The integration of plant and distribution operations allows many products to be sent to shops in reusable plastic containers including totes, dairy cases, ice cream baskets and bread trays. Stewart's offers reusable coffee mugs and cups made from paper. Also as part of the plan, Stewart's is transitioning to LED lighting in new and remodeled shops.

"Congratulations to Stewart's Shops for its continuing leadership in the communities it serves," said Francis J. Murray Jr., president and CEO of NYSERDA. "Through its participation in Governor Cuomo's NY-Sun initiative, Stewart's is demonstrating a commitment to the state's efforts to encourage large energy consumers to use renewable energy. This type of project highlights the value that solar energy can have at manufacturing facilities where solar can help a company cut costs while taking pressure off the electric grid."

NYSERDA's NY Sun Competitive PV Program was established to assist businesses and other facilities in generating large amounts of electricity from solar power, a clean, renewable energy source. It provides incentives for PV systems larger than 50 kilowatts. The Stewart's project was part of a $46 million award for 76 large-scale projects announced by Cuomo earlier this year. Funding per project is capped at $3 million, and all projects require co-funding to best leverage state resources.

Stewart's is partnering with EnterSolar, a New York City-based provider of solar systems to commercial enterprises, for this project, which is comprised of 2,405 PV modules and a ground-level inverter.

"As more businesses catch on to the massive cost-saving potential that alternative energies hold, we will begin to see a healthier environment and more resources to put Americans back to work. I applaud Stewart's for thinking outside the barrel and demonstrating why energy efficiency should be our fuel of choice," said U.S, Representative Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.).

"Stewart's Shops Solar Liftoff initiative is truly an ambitious, impressive collaboration that shows the power of public-private partnerships to reduce costs, ease the rising commercial and consumer demands on our electric grid, and make smarter use of renewable resources such as solar energy. This collaboration between Stewart's Shops, NYSERDA and EnterSolar should serve as a model for New York State, especially for our upstate community which needs more jobs, more growth and more opportunities. Stewart's Shops continues to be at the forefront of living its values, giving back to the community and making our region a better place. I am proud to offer my support for this project and commend NYSERDA for providing funding for this worthwhile initiative," said State Senator Kathleen A. Marchione (R).

"Stewart's Shops is a great family-owned business and corporate citizen that gives back to our community and with this new Solar Liftoff project, it is showing it's a good environmental steward. Clean, green, renewable solar energy will help power our 21st Century workforce and enable Stewart's and other family-owned and small businesses to create jobs here in the 112th Assembly District and protect the environment," said Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R).

NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.

Stewart's Shops operates approximately 330 c-stores located in more than 30 counties across upstate New York and southern Vermont.