Volkswagen received the award in the On-Site Generation category for its operations at its 1,400-acre automobile assembly plant located in Chattanooga.
With the official opening of the 33-acre Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park adjacent to its plant in January 2013, Volkswagen Chattanooga began generating 13.1 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of on-site green power annually.
The 9.6 megawatt photovoltaic array consists of 33,600 solar modules and is the largest system of its kind in the North American automotive industry, and in the state of Tennessee. The system's generation accounts for approximately 12 percent of the plant's electricity use, which is equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity use of more than 1,300 average American homes per year.
Prior to opening the Solar Park, the Chattanooga plant became the first auto plant in the world to receive LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2012, for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
The 21 award-winning partners were chosen for their exemplary use of green power from more than 1,500 partner organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, small- and medium-sized businesses, local, state and federal governments and colleges and universities.
Utilities, renewable energy project developers and other green power suppliers were eligible to apply for the Supplier of the Year Award, which recognizes leadership in voluntary renewable energy offerings.
The EPA defines “green power” as electricity that is generated from renewable resources, such as solar, wind and low-impact hydroelectric sources, and produces no fossil fuel-based carbon pollution.
The award-winning communities and businesses have “dramatically” increased their green power purchases and installed large-scale solar panel arrays, among other actions, according to the EPA.