FedEx Field,NRG Energy, Redskins, Prince George's County Officials in Alternative Energy Revolution

Tracey Gold Bennett | 9/15/2011, 10:23 p.m.
LANDOVER, MD -- -- A gentleman's agreement at the Super Bowl resulted in 8,000 solar...
Photo by Khalid Naji-Allah

LANDOVER, MD -- -- A gentleman's agreement at the Super Bowl resulted in 8,000 solar panels being installed in the parking lot at FEDEX Field. The panels, which convert the sun's rays into energy through photovoltaics, are now generating 100 percent of the stadium's power on non-game days and 20 percent on game days. In addition to providing nearly two megawatts of power, the panels also provide shade for 841 parked cars.

On Sept. 15, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker, Maryland Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Dist.4) and NRG Energy CEO David Craneunveiled the expansive new solar installation and a 30-foot functional sculpture called "Solar Man" at FEDEX Field, as a sun-glass-clad audience looked on and the Partridge Family's hit song, "Good Day Sunshine," played in the background.

{gallery}/11-09-16-nrg-fedex{/gallery}Just six months ago, NRG Energy of Princeton, N.J., partnered with the Redskins to design, develop and install the solar power system to meet the stadium's energy needs. The process went very quickly; more traditional kinds of energy would have taken longer according to Crane.

"Power plants take a very long time to build, some take five or six years," Crane said. "We got together in March, signed an agreement in May and we're standing here in eary September. The speed of implementation [with alternative energy] is important."

The project is the first of its kind and scope in the National Football League. Electricity produced at the stadium now through solar power is enough to meet the power needs of 300 homes in the Washington metropolitan area.

"We're doing something that hasn't been done before, and we're thrilled to be working with NRG" said Snyder. "We were searching for a forward-thinking company, and David [Crane] is ahead of his time creating alternative power sources and clean energy."

The installation, which consists of three types of solar panels, is the largest solar panel installation at an NFL stadium. But the spark, which was the impetus for the project, was actually ignited well before March. Crane told the Washington Informer that following his company's (NRG) presentation at the Super Bowl, Rod Nenner, Redskins vice president, approached him and said the team expressed interest.

"He said, 'we want to do this'," recalled Crane.

Edwards added that she was excited about the installation.

"The partnership between the Redskins and NRG Energy is a great example of how we can use viable energy solutions to create jobs and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels," Edwards said. "I hope this installation will serve as a model for what can be accomplished at venues across the country."

CBS Sports host James Brown served the master of ceremonies for the event.

"It is very special. This installation sets a new energy standard for NFL stadiums and for other iconic venues around the country," said Brown, who is a native Washingtonian. "Prince George's County is the mecca of African-American influence. While I know the area has received challenging coverage, hopefully because the county is going green, more corporate businesses will come here."