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Philadelphia Eagles green: Lincoln Financial Field generating energy with solar panels, turbines

Philadelphia Eagles green: Lincoln Financial Field generating energy with solar panels, turbines

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The long-awaited solar panels and wind turbines at Lincoln Financial Field are up and running.
More than 11,000 panels have been positioned atop the roof, over some of the parking spots, and armoring the side of the building along I-95.
The long-awaited solar panels and wind turbines at Lincoln Financial Field are up and running.
More than 11,000 panels have been positioned atop the roof, over some of the parking spots, and armoring the side of the building along I-95.

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Published by: Ray Angelini Services Inc on Apr 15, 2013
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11/11/2013

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Philadelphia Eagles green: LincolnFinancial Field generating energy  with solar panels, turbines
Solar panels go up at Lincoln Financial Field. (MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer).
Sandy Bauers,
Inquirer Staff Writer
 
POSTED: MONDAY, APRIL 15, 2013, 3:00 AM
The Eagles' newest player is a real powerhouse.The stats are electrifying: On a recent sunny day, this bulky unit churnedout 21,033.7 kilowatt hours, nearly enough to power two average homesfor a year.
 
Yes, the long-awaited solar panels and wind turbines at Lincoln FinancialField are up and running.More than 11,000 panels have been positioned atop the roof, over someof the parking spots, and armoring the side of the building along I-95.Those are the workhorses.The eye candy is the 14 wind turbines atop the ends of the stadium -meant to distract visiting kickers, one official joked. Actually, they are intended to be "a visual representation of our commitment to sustainable efforts," said Eagles president DonSmolenski.But no less, a sign of football brio.Drawings of a previous incarnation of the project made the turbines lookdisappointingly like party pinwheels. Among stadium folks, the new ones,which are 15 feet tall and weigh 1,016 pounds each, are said to resemble"bad-ass eggbeaters."On sunny days when not much is going on at the stadium, the power from the $30 million array will go back into the grid. On game days, thestadium will be sucking power back from the grid. At the final tally, 30 percent of the power used in the stadium is expectedto come from the panels and turbines. As for the rest, the team ispurchasing renewable energy credits to cover it. As for the $30 million, it may sound pricey, but it's only the equivalent of the base salary for just five of the top players this season. (Thoseparticular powerhouses are Jason Peters, $10.4 million; DeSeanJackson, $6.75 million; DeMeco Ryans, $6.6 million; plus Michael Vickand Trent Cole, $3.5 million each.)The project has been as elusive as a playoff appearance the last twoseasons. The Eagles announced a similar plan in 2010 with Florida-based Solar Blue, aiming for the project to be completed by the 2011home opener. But the details couldn't be worked out, and the team cameup with a new game plan and a new partner, NRG Solutions of Princeton.NRG, which put up the $30 million, will own, maintain, and operate thesystem. The Eagles have agreed to buy back power from NRG for apredetermined price over a set period of time.
 
Whether it actually saves the team money remains to be seen; it dependson how much electricity rates rise in coming years.But what it does provide, Smolenski said, is predictability. The Eaglesknow what their electric costs, one of the largest expenses for thestadium, will be for years to come.NRG's solar installation at Lincoln Financial Field is the NFL's largest.The company has partnerships with seven other teams. At the Washington Redskins' FedEx Field, NRG panels are atop a newparking structure and ramps. At MetLife Stadium, where the New York Jets and New York Giants play,NRG installed a "solar ring" of 1,350 panels that doubles as a dramaticlighting statement.The New England Patriots' Patriot Place has panels atop an open-air retail complex.More installations are in the works for Houston, Dallas, and the new49ers stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.NRG has bragging rights to being the largest competitive power producer in the country, creating enough energy to power almost 40 million homes.Its fleet of power plants is dominated by more traditional fuels - nuclear,coal, and natural gas.Tom Gros, president of NRG Solutions, said the idea behind the NFLprojects was not just to make power, but to make a statement."We wanted people who come to this iconic structure to think aboutenergy differently," he said. Not to mention thinking about his firmdifferently.Most people think of solar panels as things you plop on a roof, and windturbines as those towering windmills atop high hills.But the building-front panels at the Linc are interspersed with LED lightsthat resemble the wings on the Eagles' helmets. The turbines aresignificantly snazzier."What you see in this array is a statement of our future," Gros said.NRG was interested in football stadiums because of their visibility.

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