SOURCE: Santa Sweets

October 12, 2010 10:58 ET

Santa Sweets Completes 2 Megawatt Solar Energy System

Largest Solar Panel Farm Installed by a Tomato Grower on the East Coast

CEDARVILLE, NJ--(Marketwire - October 12, 2010) -  Santa Sweets, one of the country's leading conventional and organic tomato growers specializing in the grape and heirloom varieties, completed a 2 megawatt solar panel farm in Cedarville, N.J., marking one of the largest renewable energy investments undertaken by a fresh tomato grower.

"This latest environmental investment is just one example of how we are working to reduce our carbon footprint," said J.M. Procacci, Chief Operating Officer. "From clean energy to recycling nearly everything on the farm, helping the environment is not only paramount in our daily operations and company philosophy, but is a principle that guides all of our activities."

The system stretches across 10 acres and consists of over 11,000 solar photovoltaic panels that are broken down into two main sites. The sites will produce enough energy to support 200,000 square feet of Santa Sweets' refrigerated and production space.

"Over its life expectancy, the panels will provide the equivalent CO2 reduction as planting over 261,000 trees," said Bob Goodwin, director of facilities at Santa Sweets, who led the construction of the solar energy system. Based on typical utility pollution and the expected energy produced from the two sites, the system will prevent emissions of over 86,000 tons of carbon dioxide, over 380 tons of sulfur dioxide and over 120 tons of nitrogen oxide.

"New Jersey serves as a national leader for clean energy done smart, and Santa Sweets' project exemplifies what can be accomplished when a private company invests in the state and in its future. I applaud their initiative and appreciate their continued commitment to South Jersey," said Congressman Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02).

The system produces direct current electricity when sunlight hits the solar modules. The current then passes through inverters and is converted into alternating current electricity. If the panels are producing more energy than needed at the time, the excess power flows to the utility grid.

The solar energy system is a centerpiece of Santa Sweets' environmental, sustainability and social responsibility program and the company is planning to expand this initiative to its other packing facilities across the country. Among other initiatives, Santa Sweets created an internal sustainability team to share best practices and create a culture of continuous improvement toward the environment, and has joined the Greater Philadelphia Green Business Program through which the company is committed to reducing its overall carbon footprint. Santa Sweets also has partnered with several non-profit organizations in New Jersey, North Carolina and Florida to provide health services and English classes to its employees.

Santa Sweets (www.santasweets.com), based in Plant City, Fla., grows "authentic grape tomatoes" from the first generation (F1) seed which is the original grape tomato on the market. Santa Sweets is also the grower of UglyRipes™ heirloom. It operates in multiple growing regions, including Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Mexico in order to maintain year-round availability for its customers. Santa Sweets operates with a focus on food safety, and socially responsible and environment friendly growing practices.

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