CARY, North Carolina -- Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and U.S. Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) met today with employees of Southern Energy Management, a home-grown sustainable energy company, and toured the firm's signature project -- one of the largest solar array energy systems in the Southeast.
"The development of clean, renewable energy is crucial not only for reducing our carbon footprint but for making the United States a leader in the clean energy race," said Secretary Steven Chu. "By moving to clean sources of energy, we can create jobs and ensure America's competitiveness, while reducing our dependence on foreign oil. Projects like the one we saw today are vital for the future of both our country and our planet."
"This is a company whose mission is to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change and to build a sustainable, triple-bottom-line that values people, the planet and profit," Salazar said during his visit. "Its employees have installed more than 11,000 solar panels, producing about 2.8 million kilowatt hours of clean energy.
Their work in 2008 offset more than 74 million pounds of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of planting 5.7 million trees. These folks believe they can help change the world for the better and we couldn't agree more."
"Solar power produced by SAS here in Cary is a great example of the emerging energy economy, and a model for forward-thinking policies driving innovation in our state," Sen. Hagan said. "North Carolina is well-positioned to take advantage of opportunities in this new economy. I am committed to investing in sustainable, American-made energy that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create new manufacturing jobs in North Carolina and throughout the nation."
The project the group toured is at the SAS Headquarters in Cary, North Carolina, where Southern Energy Management was the primary contractor for SunPower on a 1-megawatt solar array. The project includes a 24-collector solar water heating system and a 1-megawatt photovoltaic (PV) system of 5,040 solar panels on five acres of land.
The Department of Energy has made significant investments in renewable energy with funding from the Recovery Act. Yesterday, Secretary Chu announced up to $24 million in new investments in cutting-edge wind energy research facilities. Additionally, DOE has allocated nearly $600 million in loan guarantees supporting renewable energy technology and creating American clean energy jobs. Along with the Department of Treasury, DOE has also awarded more than $1 billion in grants to companies committed to investing in domestic renewable energy production.