ProLogis Partners with SoCal Utility to Install Solar Panels on Commercial Buildings

ProLogis said today it was leasing 670,000 square feet of roof space at a Fontana, Calif., facility to Southern California Edison (SCE), the state’s biggest electric utility, as part of the nation’s largest solar cell installation program.The area at ProLogis’ Kaiser Distribution Park will be used to install and maintain enough solar panels to provide electricity for up to 1,426 households for a year. SCE plans to complete an additional five to 10 installations by the end of 2008. Each installation is comprised of one to two megawatts of solar panels. After Phase I, the utility’s goal is to put in 50 megawatts of solar panel installations each year for a total of 250 megawatts, the largest in the United States, according to a ProLogis release today.“This project has the potential to become a breakthrough solar energy program,” Jeffery Schwartz, ProLogis chairman & CEO, said in the release. “We are thrilled to partner with SCE on their first rooftop solar installation and look forward to providing additional roof space as the project gains momentum, which will in turn support our own sustainability goals and leverage existing assets.”The largest owner and developer of industrial space in Southern California, ProLogis owns 180 distribution facilities with more than 41 million square feet of space in SCE’s coverage area. The majority of those buildings would be eligible for the SCE program.In announcing the program this morning in California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger urged other commercial operators and utilities to team up. “If commercial buildings statewide partnered with utilities to put his solar technology on their rooftops, it would set off a huge wave of renewable energy growth,” the governor stated in a SCE press release.SCE, which estimates the five-year project will cost about $875 million, plans on installing solar panels on commercial roofs throughout the Inland Empire, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.This is ProLogis’ first U.S. solar cell installation but it has been using the technology at ProLogis Park Chanteloup in France and ProLogis Park Penedes in Spain.“Our experience to date in France and Spain has shown that we can effectively use rooftop solar panels to generate environmentally conscious, renewable energy, meeting the needs of local communities while also enhance the return on investment from our properties,” Jack Rizzo, managing director of global construction at ProLogis, stated in the ProLogis news release.He noted that the SCE program lays the groundwork for similar agreements at other U.S. properties. It’s only part of the company’s green efforts in recent years. On Jan. 17, CPN reported that all new ProLogis developments in the United States would comply with environmental standards developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. ProLogis is also seeking LEED certification for all its buildings and has trained its North American project managers on sustainability and LEED standards. It was also the first commercial real estate company in the industrial sector to join the Chicago Climate Exchange, a greenhouse gas emissions and carbon credit-trading program.It is not the only large company using solar technology now. On the East Coast, Tishman Speyer installed 363 solar panels on the roof of Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan, making it the largest privately owned solar energy generation station in the New York City borough, according to a Nov. 20, 2007, CPN story.