Las Vegas: Mars Chocolate North America, makers of Las Vegas' own Ethel M Chocolates, announced the grand opening of a new solar garden at its Henderson chocolate factory. The state-of-the-art solar installation provides 100 percent of the electrical energy to the Ethel Ms plant during peak operating hours.
The project's completion was commemorated with a ribbon-cutting event attended by state and local government officials, executives from NV Energy, juwi solar Inc. (JSI), and Mars Chocolate North America leaders.
"At Mars Chocolate North America, we have the opportunity to make a difference in the world," said Mike Wittman, vice president of supply. "We are proud of the investments we are making to ensure we are using the earth's resources responsibly. This newest solar garden moves us closer to our goals of eliminating our carbon footprint at our sites by 2040 and using 100 percent renewable energy."
The new Ethel M factory solar garden features 2,112 ground-mounted solar panels on 4.4 acres, and is the largest solar installation by a food manufacturer in Nevada. The installation generates 1,258 megawatt hours of zero-emission electricity each year, offsetting 867 metric tons of greenhouse gas – the equivalent of removing approximately 170 vehicles from the road. The project will generate as much energy as 115 Nevada households use annually.
Mars will purchase all of the energy generated by the solar garden and JSI will own the project and its associated energy credits. Mars worked closely with NV Energy to ensure that the new installation met net metering requirements, enabling Mars to receive energy offsets from the utility based on the amount of energy their solar panels will produce.
"Turning one of the desert's greatest assets into energy is in complete alignment with Mars' Principles in Action, our core business values," said Mack Phillips, site director of the Henderson plant. "Two years ago we unveiled a similar solar project at our North American headquarters in Hackettstown, NJ, and its impact on our operations has been substantial."
"This is the second solar PV project built by juwi solar on Mars-owned property," said Michael Martin, CEO of JSI. "We are proud to play a role in advancing environmental and sustainability goals by replacing the grid's brown power with green power generated onsite."
The solar garden is adjacent to the chocolate factory and Ethel M's Botanical Cactus Garden. A vista point located within the Botanical Cactus Garden will allow the more than 700,000 annual visitors to view the new solar facility.
"We are fortunate to have been a part of the Henderson and Las Vegas community for more than 30 years," said Phillips. "We hope the completion of our solar garden demonstrates our continuing commitment to be an environmentally friendly citizen. Our goal is that every business decision we make will have a positive effect on people and the planet through our performance. This project achieves all three."