By JESSICA WETZLER
Daily News-Record 7/28/20
InterChange Group announced Friday that its newest cold storage warehouse in Mount Crawford will expand its use of solar panels by the end of 2020 and become home to the industry’s largest solar power system in Virginia.
Erik Curren, marketing adviser for Secure Futures Solar, said InterChange Group signed an agreement with the Staunton- based solar energy firm to install and operate the solar panel expansion at the facility.
Curren said in an email that cold storage facilities have been a key part of keeping the food supply going through the COVID-19 pandemic, and the demand for cold storage has “increased greatly.” The first part of the Mount Crawford cold storage facility opened prior to COVID-19, but due to stresses on the supply chain, there was added urgency to expand the facility.
“InterChange’s solar is part of a bigger story on how they’re expanding cold storage to meet market demand,” he said.
Curren said the solar power system will be designed to add battery storage in the future that would provide backup power in the event of grid electricity being interrupted.
The system has been in the works for three years, with the first installation of solar panels occurring in April 2019. Once the expansion is completed this fall, the solar panels will provide 70% of the facility’s energy use.
Devon Anders, president of InterChange Group, did not provide any further comments Monday.
In a press release, Anders said he was pleased to continue the facility’s investment in sustainable energy and partnership with Secure Futures, adding that the investment in 2019 has “ proven that we can produce clean energy for our facilities and reduce our carbon footprint.”
“With the amount of energy needed to store frozen food day in and day out, we are confident in deploying enhanced solar and metering technology to further minimize our effect on the environment,” he said.
In April 2019, Secure Futures installed 4,648 6- by- 3.5foot panels weighing more than 50 pounds as part of InterChange Group’s $ 3 million solar array system. The addition produced the same amount of electricity used by an average of 160 homes, 1.6 megawatts, and offset the facility’s electric power consumption by 45%.
The newest expansion would avoid more than 1,400 tons of carbon dioxide pollution per year and boast a total of nearly three megawatts of solar generating capacity at the company.
Anthony Smith, CEO and founder of Secure Futures, said Monday that the InterChange Group is the “ only ones doing anything of this nature in Virginia,” adding that it is leading the logistics and supply chain management industry in Virginia and nationwide for its use of clean energy.
“Generating solar power on site offers key advantages to InterChange over other cold storage providers,” Smith said. “They’ll save money on their operations while helping the major consumer brands who use the facility to meet their own commitments to go green.”
Smith said the solar panels are “top tier” and will be installed in September.