Tubing extruder NewAge Industries Inc. really is “new age” — thanks to rooftop solar panels that generate about half of the company's annual electricity needs.
For this Best Practices, we go to Southampton, Pa., outside of Philadelphia. There, NewAge employees are celebrating the fifth anniversary of the company's green energy system, which uses 4,082 solar panels. The panels cover about three-quarters of the roof of the factory. In mid-2011, CEO Ken Baker flipped the switch that turned on the system.
The panels generate one megawatt of electricity each year.
In the 2011 announcement, company officials said it was the sixth-largest rooftop solar panel system in the state of Pennsylvania. The company made it a point to use only U.S.-made components — solar panels, inverters and the racking system.
That's appropriate for a U.S. manufacturer. And it's admirable, since China dominates the solar panel sector.
In many ways, this is a perfect Best Practices story for plastics processors. We're not talking about General Motors Co. here — NewAge is a modest-sized tubing extruder. Today, NewAge employs about 130 people and extrudes plastic and rubber tubing and hose and makes injection molded fittings. According to Plastics News' most recent ranking data, NewAge generates estimated sales of $24.5 million a year.
Company officials estimate the solar panel system will pay for itself in electricity savings in about four more years. That's a payback of around nine years.
“It's a long-term investment,” said Ann Phy, NewAge's marketing coordinator. “There was a lot of thought put into it.”