Film extruder Toray Plastics America Inc. will build a $2 million solar photovoltaic field on its 70-acre campus in North Kingstown, R.I., with construction to begin early in 2011.
Toray a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Toray Industries Inc. said the 446-kilowatt solar field will occupy about 3 acres and consist of 1,650 panels with utility-scale, single-access trackers, which allow the panels to follow the sun's movement across the sky. Toray claims the field will be the largest solar-powered system in Rhode Island.
Toray estimates the system, which is designed to produce higher-energy output than conventional fixed-mounted photovoltaic panels, will generate 625 megawatt hours a year, helping to curb escalating energy costs and reducing its carbon dioxide emissions by 340 tons annually.
We are seeking any energy-saving project to reduce [electricity use] and also to reduce our CO2 emissions, as far as it is feasible to our company, Shigeru Osada, Toray Plastics America's senior vice president, said in a Dec. 21 telephone interview.
When the solar field begins operating, it will save Toray $70,000 to $80,000 annually, he said.
Meanwhile, Toray remains opposed to construction of what would be the United States' first large-scale offshore wind-energy farm.
Toray and closure injection molder Polytop Corp. of Slatersville, R.I., in August joined the Boston-based Conservation Law Foundation in appealing the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission's approval of a 20-year contract between development firm Deepwater Wind LLC of Hoboken, N.J., and utility company National Grid USA of New York.
The contract would allow Deepwater Wind to transmit power from Block Island, R.I. which lies in the Atlantic Ocean about 13 miles south of the mainland to National Grid customers on the East Coast.
The wind farm, a $220 million project that would result in the installation of five to eight European-style large wind turbines, is scheduled to be operational in 2012, the time frame necessary to take advantage of federal tax incentives.
Under the contract, Deepwater Wind would sell electricity to National Grid for 24.4 cents a kilowatt-hour, with annual price increases of 3.5 percent over the life of the agreement. The baseline price could be lower if construction costs fall below developers' expectations.
In filings with the state, Toray has argued that the Deepwater Wind project would cost it $304,732 in above-market payments in the first year of operation, and $7.3 million over the life of the contract with National Grid.
It is not commercially feasible because of $390 million in costs to Rhode Island [electricity customers], which we think should be shared equally, Osada said.
Led by outgoing state Attorney General Patrick Lynch, groups challenging the legality of the Block Island wind farm contract filed briefs Nov. 22 with the Rhode Island Supreme Court.
Briefs from Deepwater Wind, National Grid and their allies are due Jan. 13, with reply briefs due Feb. 3. Oral arguments are expected to begin next spring.
Deepwater Wind on Dec. 8 announced plans to greatly enlarge the scope of another wind farm proposed off the coast of Rhode Island.
The company said it wants to build as many as 200 turbines about 20 miles off the mainland in addition to the smaller project near Block Island.
The larger project, known as the Deepwater Wind Energy Center, was initially to include 100 turbines that could generate 350 megawatts. The latest proposal would generate 1,000 megawatts.
Osada would not comment on the Deepwater Wind Energy Center project, saying that Toray may take a position once more details of Deepwater Wind's proposal are made public.
Funding for Toray's solar field will come from the company, grants and loans from the Rhode Island Economic Development Corp.'s Renewable Energy fund, and state and federal grants under the Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Construction is to be completed by the third quarter of 2011.