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ATLANTIC CITY, NJ-The building itself has 500,000 sf of contiguous floor space and nearly as much roof space. And about two-thirds of the roof space of the Atlantic City Convention Center, or approximately 290,000 sf, is about to be turned into what officials are calling the US’ largest single-building solar energy project.

Officials of the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority, operators of the 11-year-old facility, say they have signed a deal with the Pepco Energy Services subsidiary of Arlington, VA-based Pepco Holdings that calls for installation of more than 13,300 photovoltaic panels on the facility’s rooftop in a project that’s expected to generate nearly 2.4 megawatts of energy. Construction is slated to start later this month, with completion by the end of December.

Under the terms of the 20-year agreement, Pepco will pay the cost of the installation, and will own and operate it. The convention center, which is owned by the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, will then buy the electricity being generated from Pepco. ACCVA officials estimate that they will save nearly $4.5 million in electricity costs over the life of the contract.

“The ACCVA continues to embrace green initiatives and stand at the forefront of the environmental movement,” says the authority’s executive director, Jeffrey Vasser, in a statement. “Following Gov. Corzine’s lead in taking a proactive look at environmental issues, our team has worked in conjunction with Pepco Energy in order to develop this project, which allows us to use our natural resources to run the convention center more efficiently.

“We have a great building to do this on, and we wanted to be the first kid on the block to get in on it,” says Vasser, who estimates that the installation will generate about 25% of the center’s electrical requirements.

David Weiss, president of Pepco Energy Services, says that “this project will help a young industry grow into a mature industry.” Pepco officials declined to say how much the installation will cost to put in place, although “it is a multi-million-dollar project,” Weiss says.

ACCVA officials say they’re looking at a couple of other energy-related initiatives. One would be construction of a wind-powered turbine on a site adjacent to the convention center. Another would be to expand the solar project to Boardwalk Hall, the city’s historic original convention center, replaced by the current building but retained for smaller shows and meetings.

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