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VW Thinks Blue with Green Energy
Volkswagen Chattanooga flipped the switch for alternative energy as the facility unveiled the State’s second largest solar array to a gathering of elected officials, news media, dignitaries and regulators.
The installation of the thirty-three thousand solar panel array was completed in November 2012. It was not without extensive collaboration between the City of Chattanooga, Hamilton County, the U.S. Army, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the 66 acre array came to be.
EPA, in consultation with TDEC, issued an Administrative Order to the U.S. Army requiring corrective action at the former TNT manufacturing facility. The Order formalized the corrective action process allowing for the necessary remediation activities to progress. As parcels were cleared and made available for use, Volkswagen negotiated the purchase of the former Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant (VOAAP) in 2008.
Timing for completion of the new plant coincided with the remediation of the adjoining tract. EPA and TDEC entered into the final phase of remediation- redevelopment of commercial and recreational areas- just as the VW plant approached completion in 2011. EPA recognized the participating, staff, state and local governments and Army with a National Notable Achievement Award for their collaborative efforts to restore and revitalize the area.
One year after the first vehicle rolled off the new assembly line the company’s plans for installation of the array were underway. Volkswagen began and finished installing the array in 2012 and put the final touches on a commitment the company made during negotiations with the City of Chattanooga and Hamilton County to acquire the tract of land.
The newly installed 9.5 megawatt system provides 13.1 gigawatt hours of electricity per year or 12.5 percent of the facility’s energy needs. “We are not just building energy efficient vehicles but there’s also something about our factories and our approach as a brand,” said Frank Fischer, CEO and Chairman Volkswagen Group of America, Chattanooga Operations, LLC. It is something we call ‘Think Blue’. We are taking care of the blue planet.”
Region 4 applauds the collaborative nature of this project - a true example of federal, state and local governments partnering with businesses to re-purpose once unusable lands," said Gwen Keyes Fleming, U.S. EPA Regional Administrator. "We are excited about this project undertaken by Volkswagen and the prospects it may yield for innovation in the future."
The 152,000 unit production facility is also the first and only automobile manufacturing plant with Platinum LEED certification. Volkswagen representatives indicated the solar array has the potential to be expanded to provide enough additional energy to meet the company’s long term climate change goals.
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