In Jersey, Solar Is How The Presses Roll

They might be old media, but they’re pretty hip when it comes to sourcing their power.

North Jersey Media Group, whose best known property is The Record newspaper that serves New York City bedroom communities in Bergen County, N.J., is now meeting 60 percent of the power needs at their big Rockaway Township, N.J., printing plant with solar energy.

north jersey media group solar

The North Jersey Media Group’s Rockaway printing plant (image via KDC Solar)

That’s a hefty job, since in addition to printing The Record, the plant prints other North Jersey Media Group publications as well as USA Today, The Journal News, Poughkeepsie Journal, New Jersey Herald, Investor’s Business Daily and all the publications of Greater Media Newspapers.

It took a mammoth 5-megawatt system, consisting of 20,400 panels on carports, roofs and grounds surrounding the company’s 350,000 square-foot plant, to do the job, the company said.

“We already buy newsprint from suppliers who contribute zero percent to deforestation, meaning there is no loss in trees,” Stephen Borg, president of North Jersey Media Group, said in a statement. “This solar effort brings us to the next step. The end result is that more than half of our plant’s electricity needs will be met through the sun.”

As if often the case with this type of project – and increasingly with residential systems – a power purchase agreement made it happen. The installation was financed by KDC Solar and North Jersey Media Group is buying kilowatt hour output of the facility through a PPA.

KDC Solar said the system is expected to generate 6 million kilowatt-hours annually, which by our calculations is a capacity factor of about 14 percent.

This installation is just the sort that has helped make New Jersey a surprising force in U.S. solar. Earlier this week, the state gave itself a well-earned pat on the back for hitting 1 gigawatt in installed solar capacity, much of it in the commercial category.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.