Solar panels installed on Second Harvest Food Bank

October 1, 2010 7:29:43 AM PDT
An agency feeding the hungry in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties will mark an important new installation Friday. The Second Harvest Food Bank is now harvesting the power of the sun to serve more people.

A dedication ceremony will celebrate a massive new 1,200 panel solar system, being built with the generous help of donors. It's expected to supply about half of the warehouse's energy needs -- and the food bank plans to transform the energy savings into more food for the community.

"Our supporters are really conscious of the amount of money it takes to get people fed in our community, and they're always helping us look for more efficient ways to do it," said Poppy Pembroke, Second Harvest.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties is in the midst of getting a rooftop solar system installed at its warehouse headquarters in San Jose. The 300-kilowatt system is largely funded by a $1.1 million donation from two Silicon Valley corporations -- Cypress Semiconductor and Sunpower. It's a gift that will benefit the environment, the bottom dollar and the community.

The rooftop solar system will save the Food Bank $3 million over the next 25 years which is equivalent to 630 meals per day or 6 million meals over the 25-year life of the system.

"Every dollar that we don't have to spend on, you know, more refrigeration or anything like that is going to go right back into distributing more food," said Pembroke.

And the community need has only been growing -- Second Harvest is distributing 20 percent more food than last year, serving an average of 231,000 people each month.

Friday the CEO's of both Sunpower and Cypress Semiconductor, along with San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, will help inaugurate the new solar system by flipping a giant mock switch.

Second Harvest expects the solar panels to be up and running in the next couple weeks.


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