Power up: Boeing flips switch on solar array

North Charleston, SC (AP) - NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - It's something some say couldn't be done, but Boeing has flipped the switch on their latest project -- getting all of their electricity from renewable energy. Company executives call it a proud accomplishment.

"We're 100% renewable energy. We generate solar power. We're zero waste to the landfill. Again we're two South Carolina companies and we're going for LEED certification for our buildings that hasn't been achieved before," Boeing VP and General Manager of Final Assembly and Delivery Marco Cavazzoni said.

The 18,000 solar panels cover 10-acres of the rooftop of the Boeing 787 Final Assembly Plant. The solar energy is then converted into power for the plant through generators.

Boeing partnered with SCE&G for the project. This was the first of its kind project for either company.

"This was an idea. It was something that people said couldn't be done. Two South Carolina companies came together to show what South Carolinians can do," Cavazzoni said.

SCE&G says the solar panels provide 2.6 megawatts of electricity. To give you an idea of how much that is, it's enough for about 250 homes. It took the power company more than five months to get the solar power system up and running.

"We're excited about it because it is large, largest in the southeast, one of the largest in the nation. It shows where customers and suppliers can come together where they have a great need and figure out how to do these things," CEO and Chair of SCE&G parent company SCANA Kevin Marsh said.

SCE&G says all the power generated at the Boeing site will stay at the site. Since SCE&G owns the generators making the solar electricity, they'll use a meter to track how much power Boeing uses, and Boeing will be billed just like other customers.

SCE&G says not all the power going to Boeing is being generated by the solar panels. They also use biomass energy, where wood chips are burned and generated into usable power. SCE&G says solar energy is slightly more expensive than other power sources.

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