After nearly five decades in operation and the production of more than 15 million cars, General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) (Detroit, Michigan) is revolutionizing its operations at one of its largest assembly plants by reducing its carbon footprint.
Recognized as the greenest manufacturer by the Solar Energy Industries Association, GM has recently completed two new renewable energy projects at its manufacturing complex in Lordstown, Ohio--a 6.5-acre solar array outside and the retrofit of more than 6,000 LED lights inside. This facility is currently building the Chevrolet Cruze model sedan, the world's best-selling compact car.
The first renewable project, situated on an old blacktop parking lot in a highly visible location just off the Ohio Turnpike, is the largest solar array for GM in the western hemisphere. The project's 8,550 solar panels cover 6.5 acres and will supply 2.2 megawatts of green energy to the plant.
Beginning in early November and brought online before January 1, 2015, the schedule wasn't the only challenge for the electrical construction crew. Mother Nature proved to be as difficult.
"We worked six and seven days a week, 10 hours per day, braving the cold the entire time ... a lot during near zero temps," said Jaime Burdette, general foreman of the crew and IBEW 573 member.
In regard to how much power the solar array generates, there again was Mother Nature posing a challenge. It was nothing the NECA-IBEW Team couldn't handle, however, according to Dickie Electric Vice President Eric Carlson. "[The solar panels] are even able to capture the light here in Northeast Ohio, and we have a lot of cloudy days," Carlson said. "They'll capture it, that green energy, and get it back into the plant."
Inside the facility, GM also switched to all LED lights, replacing the existing 40-foot-high bay lighting system. LEDs provide much more illumination and brightness to the production process, while saving an estimated eighty-four percent on lighting costs.
ABOUT NECA: The National Electrical Contractors Association, or NECA, has provided more than a century of service to the $130 billion electrical construction industry that brings power, light, and communication technology to buildings and communities across the United States. NECA's national and 119 local chapters advance the industry through advocacy, education, research, and standards development.
ABOUT THE IBEW: The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, or IBEW, represents approximately 725,000 members who work in a wide variety of fields, including utilities, construction, telecommunications, broadcasting, manufacturing, railroads and government. The IBEW has members in both the United States and Canada and stands out among the American unions in the AFL-CIO because it is among the largest and has members in so many skilled occupations.