Wildwood Convention Center unveils solar project

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WILDWOOD- The day after Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation to grow New Jersey’s solar industry, the Wildwood Convention Center revealed the completion of its $1.3 million solar panel project.

The project, which took about three years to complete, is expected to supply about 24 percent of the venue’s overall energy annually, which proponents say will save the convention center tens of thousands of dollars a year.

“This is the beginning, these are early days,” Henry LaBalme, director of East Coast sales for Tioga Energy, which developed the project, said of the solar industry at a press conference Tuesday. “The Wildwood Convention Center is on the cutting edge, and New Jersey is on the cutting edge.”

The 1,700 panels on top of the convention center’s roof will also reduce the carbon footprint of the venue by 179 tons annually. The panels are owned by Energy Finance Company, which also financed the system. Under a 20-year lease agreement, it will sell the electricity the panels create back to the convention center at reduced rate.

Tom Byrne, the chairman of the Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement and Development Authority, noted that the panels were a success for numerous reasons, the first being the addition of a new roof, which is typically a large expense, as well as the ability for the center to buy more cost-efficient electricity. Second, he said, the project made GWTIDA as a leader in economic development.

“By taking on this project, and reducing our carbon footprint, getting in with the go-green movement, we are certainly going to be viewed as leaders in this area,” Byrne said. “And we’re happy to take that role.”

The project’s unveiling followed Christie’s signing of the Solar Energy Bill Monday, which is expected to encourage the growth of the solar industry in New Jersey by protecting rate payers from increasing costs.

Richard Cooper, president of Pro-Tech Energy Solutions, which constructed the roof top solar project at the convention center, said the system will produce 474 kilowatts of electricity and was an example of New Jersey’s role as a leader in the solar industry.

Cooper said that New Jersey was the sixth largest solar market in the world, and is a national leader in solar energy. He added that New Jersey has more commercial rooftops than any other state, and these were an ideal platform for solar energy.

“Rooftop projects, like this one, not only have a positive impact on its municipality, like Wildwood, but throughout the state,” Cooper said. “They foster economic growth while improving the environment.”

Christie Rotondo can be emailed at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or you can comment on this story at www.shorenewstoday.com. 


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