Toray Plastics America Inc. has completed construction of a $2 million, 445-kilowatt solar photovoltaic farm on its 70-acre campus in North Kingstown.
The 3-acre solar farm is the largest in Rhode Island, according to the company. It comprises 1,650 photovoltaic panels and will generate 625 megawatt-hours of electricity annually, helping the company combat escalating energy costs and reducing its carbon-dioxide emissions by 340 tons per year.
State and company officials dedicated the farm in late September.
“This farm has been a dream of Toray Plastics America, and a personal one of mine, for the past three years,” Rick Schloesser, president and CEO, said in a news release. “Its completion is a tribute to how government and business can come together to work toward a mutual goal.”
Funding for the solar farm was provided by Toray and state and federal grants, including stimulus funding from the Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The extruder of polypropylene, polyester and bio-based films for packaging and industrial applications is one of Rhode Island's top employers.
In September, Toray began an $11.5 million expansion that will create 28 new jobs in North Kingstown. The company has achieved a goal set in 2004 of sending zero waste to landfills, according to Schloesser.
Toray is among the fiercest opponents of a proposed wind turbine farm off the East Coast, alleging that the project eventually will cost Rhode Islanders $415 million in above-market electricity rates.
Under a 20-year contract, development firm Deepwater Wind LLC of Providence, R.I., and utility company National Grid USA of New York have agreed to transmit power from Block Island — about 13 miles south of Rhode Island and 15 miles east of Montauk, N.Y. — to National Grid customers.
The wind farm, a $220 million project that would result in the installation of six to eight large wind turbines around Block Island, is scheduled to be operational in 2013 or 2014.
The Rhode Island Supreme Court ruled July 1 that the power contract — which the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission approved in August 2010 — is legal, overriding objections by Toray and others.
Deepwater announced Oct. 11 that it had signed an agreement with Siemens Wind Power Division to buy the Hamburg, Germany-based company's latest offshore wind turbines for deployment on Block Island. Siemens will supply five of its new 6-megawatt, direct-drive offshore turbines, which will be located 20-25 miles from the U.S. mainland, according to recent news releases from Deepwater and National Grid.
Also on Oct. 11, Toray filed an objection with the public utilities commission to waive a sunset clause in the original power contract, citing the Rhode Island secretary of state's decision June 27 to revoke Deepwater's right to conduct business in the state.
According to the secretary of state's office, the certification was pulled after Deepwater, which incorporated as a limited liability company in 2009, failed to file annual reports for 2010 and 2011.
The omission was a clerical error, and Deepwater — which relocated its headquarters from Hoboken, N.J., to Providence in September 2010 — provided the required reports, as well as tax certifications, and paid a $25 fine, allowing it retroactively to do business in Rhode Island, according to an Oct. 17 response to Toray filed with the public utilities commission by Deepwater lawyer Joseph Keough Jr.
In his filing, Keough called Toray's raising of Deepwater's decertification “a red herring” and “another example of Toray's kitchen-sink approach” to attacking the wind farm project.
Through a spokeswoman, Toray declined to comment on the issue.
Arguments were presented in November before the state public utilities commission, but Toray has not succeeded in blocking the project.
Toray Plastics America is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Toray Industries Inc. The parent operates in 18 countries, has sales of about $13 billion and employs 32,000.
Toray Plastics runs the North Kingstown films plant and a polyolefin foams plant in Front Royal, Va. New England news media last year speculated about the firm possibly moving its headquarters from Rhode Island to Virginia, but Schloesser said such speculation was premature.