Avidan Management Commissions Nation’s Largest Rooftop Solar System in New Jersey
Posted 4/20/2011 by Ben Santarris, Head of Corporate Communications and Sustainability
As a boy, I may have imagined that in Thomas Edison’s day, some storybook lightning marked his technological breakthroughs. Now 50, I figure that a raw drizzle on an ordinary weekday morning was the more likely response. Maybe a morning just like today’s in Edison, N.J., the namesake of the late great inventor, whose 1,093 patents included ideas for electrical lighting and generation.
Then as now, most people would be sure to grasp the potential impact of Edison’s perseverance, foresight and courage only in hindsight.
But as someone who keeps watch for signs that solar energy’s inroads are swelling into avenues, I was glad to join a celebration of bold renewable-energy progress that has unfolded in an unlikely corner of Edison. In a tent shielding about 100 attendees from impertinent raindrops, a ceremony took place alongside a huge industrial warehouse to commission the nation’s largest roof-mounted solar system. Many of us recognized that a 17-acre blanket of SolarWorld solar panels on the rooftop signaled an entrepreneurial and technological stride forward, and several speakers made the link between the city’s namesake and the solar investor.
Avi Avidan is the patriarch of a family company based in nearby Elizabeth. From offices overlooking Newark Liberty International Airport, Avidan taps three decades of experience in overseeing such conventional businesses as cold storage, office leasing and mass distribution as well as coming up with new ways to secure and keep commercial tenants. Considering that backdrop, I don’t think I’m exaggerating in saying his commitment – and son Josh’s follow-through – in developing this rooftop power plant is visionary.
The system’s also a vision. Some 17,745 SolarWorld panels seem to undulate in parallel bands of silver and black as they criss-cross a roof contoured to channel rain into drains. Avi Avidan, 59, described the waves as forming a “sea of solar panels.”
Avidan and others spoke of the power of such a system to cut electric bills and attract tenants. They outlined not only the financial gains for both sides of the landlord-tenant connection, but also the installation and manufacturing jobs for American workers. Avidan also said he was proud that his system featured only domestically produced solar panels and other system parts, such as racking and inverters. “It’s a very rare thing to happen these days,” he said.
Also speaking were Edison Mayor Antonia Ricigliano, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone and utility and solar-industry representatives, including Dan Drummond, president of Solar Nation, which designed, engineered and installed the system. He commended installation workers who braved the winter’s severity.
Kevin Kilkelly, president of SolarWorld Americas, spoke on behalf of his company’s more than 1,250 U.S. employees in applauding Avi Avidan for setting a new milestone of U.S. energy ingenuity.
Just like the namesake of the milestone’s host city.
Read the press release