Montco Officials ‘Flip the Switch’ on Oaks Expo Center and Its Solar Array

solar rooftop array switch
Image via Michael O’Neill for the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board.
(L-R) Commissioner Ken Lawrence, Chair, Montgomery County Board of Commissioners; Keith Peltzman, Founder and President, Independence Solar; Lisa Karl, Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board Vice President of Sales & Strategic Partnerships; Pam Derderian , 15 Minutes Inc. & Expo Center Spokesperson; and Mike Bowman President & CEO Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board flip a gigantic industrial “switch” to ceremonially move “off the grid” and announce the solar rooftop array at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks Pa.

The Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks has installed the largest solar rooftop array in a Pennsylvania convention venue. The project was unveiled with a “flip the switch” event on Feb. 24.

“Today we are proud to share news of the most recent improvement at the [Expo Center], said Pam Derderian, Expo Center spokesperson.

“The solar panels installed across our roof  are projected to generate enough energy to power the 140 plus events held here annually, with any surplus delivered back into the grid to power local businesses and homes,” she explained.

Technological Scope

She cited some statistics surrounding the innovation:

  • The project cost $3 million
  • It is expected to show a return on that investment within eight years
  • This solar project ranks second in Montgomery County for DC current capacity and No. 12 overall in the state, at more than 1.2 megawatts
  • Though meant for commercial use, these solar arrays are large enough to equip 200 homes

“This is about our evolution as a company and our progression as a better corporate citizen,” added Derderian. “We are committed to the sustainable-energy movement and enhancing the quality of life in our community and in our country for future generations, and we’re pleased to align with Montgomery County’s sustainability efforts.”

What Travelers Want

Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board Vice President of Sales & Strategic Partnerships Lisa Karl stated: “We know more travelers are expressing an interest in frequenting eco-friendly destinations, so we’re working together with our partners to promote environmentally responsible initiatives.

“This [solar rooftop array] provides us with an opportunity to send a message to event planners that we are a destination focused on the future.

“To support our commitment to this initiative, we are collaborating on a multiyear strategic plan. [It includes components of] research, education, web content and maps, collecting and developing visual assets, advertising to target markets, print collateral, digital brochures, digital marketing, social media promotion and public relations.”

Karl’s assertions are confirmed by recent research showing:

  • More than 80 percent of Montco hotels promote green initiatives, including Hilton, whose “Travel with Purpose” strategy is positioned to encourage responsible travel globally
  • Google Insights and The New York Times data on interest in environmentalism when away from home for business or leisure indicate:
    • More than 50 percent of travelers surveyed said environmental and sustainable considerations are essential when planning travel
    • 71 percent of travelers plan to go “greener”
    • More than half indicated that they are determined to make more environmentally conscious travel choices in the next year
    • 83 percent of business meeting professionals said they take sustainability into account when planning industry gatherings (data from American Express) 

Part of an Overall County Plan

The Oaks initiative also gels well with plans detailed in “Montco 2050: A Comprehensive Plan for a Changing World,” which informs future growth and future development efforts. The scope of that study covers quality of life details related to:

  • Land use
  • Traffic and transit
  • Open space, parks, and trails
  • Housing
  • Water resources
  • The economy 

Montgomery County Board of Commissioners Chair Ken Lawrence said at the flip-the-switch event, “Sustainability is a key goal of the county, and we are actively engaged in reducing our carbon footprint and supporting the next generation of workers in the clean energy economy.”

The new solar rooftop array was put to immediate use, proving light and heat for the Philly Home + Garden Show that ran Feb. 24–26.


CBS3 Philadelphia also covered the Oaks solar power announcement.

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