Philadelphia Eagles to take stadium off power grid

PHILADELPHIA Thu Nov 18, 2010 6:00pm EST

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - The Philadelphia Eagles are taking their stadium off the power grid and converting Lincoln Financial Field to one that will allow the stadium to generate all its own electricity from renewable sources, team officials said on Thursday.

The NFL club plans to install solar panels, wind turbines and an alternative-fuels power plant the Eagles say will save them $60 million on electricity costs over 20 years.

The savings "prove that sustainable energy policies are consistent with sound business practices," club owner Jeffrey Lurie said at a ceremony in the 70,000-seat field.

The Eagles have contracted with Solar Blue, an Orlando-based renewable energy company, to install 80 20-foot (6.1-meter) wind turbines on the upper rim of the stadium and about 2,500 solar panels.

The turbines and panels will each contribute about 15 percent of the output while the rest will be generated by a plant that can run on biofuels or natural gas.

The new equipment will generate at least 8.6 megawatts of electricity, above the 7 mw peak used by the stadium on game days, said Solar Blue president Lee Maher. Excess power will be sold to a local utility.

Solar Blue will meet the capital cost of $30 million for the 20-year contract.

The energy generated by the new program would be enough to power 26,000 homes and the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions will be the equivalent of taking 41,000 cars off the road, said Lurie's wife Christina, who heads the club's Go Green environmental program.

The club, whose players wear green uniforms, has been operating a sustainability program for the last seven years, and has aggressive goals on recycling, composting and the purchase of materials such as beer cups from renewable sources.

National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell said other clubs may seek to follow Philadelphia's lead.

"I think they will look at this as an opportunity to follow suit because they want to do the right thing in their communities," Goodell said.

(Reporting by Jon Hurdle; Editing by Daniel Trotta)

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