By Jake Kaplan / MLB.com
LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. -- At the forefront among professional sports teams of the clean energy movement for more than four years, the Philadelphia Phillies have added a solar energy project to their list of investments.
They were recognized by Community Energy Solar as one of a handful of charter customers during Tuesday's "Turn the Power On" Celebration for Keystone Solar -- the largest solar project in the state -- at Kreider Farm in Lancaster County.
The symbolic flipping of the switch at the close of the ceremony helped celebrate the 5-megawatt (AC) ground-mounted project, which is anticipated to power the equivalent of 950 homes and circumvent 4,200 tons of carbon dioxide per year. As of late Tuesday morning, 4,261.3 homes were already being powered by the farm.
Abetting the celebration, which included tours of the solar farm, the Phillie Phanatic attended the event, mingling and taking photos with attendees.
Brent Alderfer, the CEO and founder of Community Energy Solar, said having the Phillies involved "put it over the top" in terms of getting the word out about their project, which took three months to build but much longer to plan.
"I think that's where the Phillies organization has shown that they are willing to be leaders in the community, and they've been a class organization in this from Day 1," Alderfer said. "It's not the usual participant in a renewable energy project, to have a sports team. It's another reason we're particularly pleased to have the Phillies on board."
Exelon Generation was the wholesale power purchaser, while Drexel University, Franklin & Marshall College, Eastern University, Clean Air Council, Millersville University, Marywood University and Juniata College were among the other high-profile customers.
The Phillies have been purchasing Renewable Energy Credits since the inception of their "Red Goes Green" program in April 2008, and they were Major League Baseball's first team to join the EPA's Green Power Partnership (GPP) program, which urges the acquisition of green power. The organization remains the largest purchaser of renewable energy among the 30 Major League clubs.
"This is a great initiative for the 'Red Goes Green' project because it's local," said Mary Anne Gettis, the Phillies manager of marketing initiatives. "So we can actually say that we're buying local solar, which is pretty amazing, and it's great to be a part of it with Community Energy, a great partner of ours."
Brian Mahoney, the Phillies' director of advertiser sales, and a key cog in the organization's involvement with the project, echoed similar sentiments.
"To be involved with a local company like Community Energy and a local project -- the largest solar field in the state of Pennsylvania -- to be a charter purchaser of that energy, we're happy to have that opportunity to be a part of it," Mahoney said.
Jake Kaplan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.