NFL stadiums have been a hot topic lately, thanks to the news that the league plans to block off the first six to eight rows of seats in each venue, ostensibly to help protect players from COVID-19, but also to “sell signage to local sponsors,” according to Sports Business Daily.
When and if fans return to Heinz Field later this summer, they may notice something else that’s new this year: solar panels, which were installed by Powerhome Solar this spring.
And if all goes well with this move into renewable energy, more solar panels could be added at Heinz Field in the future.
“You start and see how it goes, you start seeing the savings, you start seeing the difference you are making on the planet, and then it starts to get bigger,” said Powerhome Solar CEO Jayson Waller in an interview with Heavy.com, referring to the pattern he’s seen with other professional sports franchises.
Powerhome’s Other NFL Partners
In fact, the Pittsburgh Steelers were the third NFL franchise to sign on with the Mooresville, N.C.-based company, and Powerhome Solar now has partnerships with the Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts.
But though the Steelers inked a deal with Powerhome more than a year ago, the process of getting the install completed at Heinz Field was elongated—at least as compared to most other stadium projects—because the permitting process was more involved than usual.
“It just took longer because the University of Pittsburgh owns the land, but we finally got to the finish line,” Waller said, before advising that the installation process took just a few days, and that panels can be seen at “some of the concession stands and parking areas.”
So going forward the Steelers figure to experience significant savings in terms of energy costs, while also reducing Heinz Field’s carbon footprint. And the cost of the install won’t get transferred to fans in the form of higher ticket prices, Waller emphasizes.
“We try to do things at cost—or even less than cost—to work with the team to get [them] in the right direction,” he said, noting that large commercial projects like the one at Heinz Field help the company educate individual consumers about the benefits of renewable energy, both in terms of cost-savings and the environment.
Solar Panels: Coming to an NFL Stadium Near You?
Waller hints that Powerhome solar arrays could soon be coming to more NFL stadiums in the not-too-distant future.
“We are talking to other teams in states we’re in. We just opened up in Tennessee, and we’re going into Georgia and Texas soon, so you can kinda figure out some of the teams we may be talking to,” Waller said.
Meanwhile, if there aren’t fans—or games—at Heinz Field this year, the Steelers will still realize savings for the power the solar panels will generate. Much like a homeowner who installs solar panels on their roof, the team will draw on the power produced by the panels, and any overproduction can be sent to the power grid.
“It will credit their bill and continue to credit it until they use the power,” Wallner explains.
Of course, the stadium is expected to get a certain amount of unexpected additional usage this summer, as the Steelers have announced that the team will be holding training camp at Heinz Field, which is expected to get underway on or about July 28.
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