NFL's Eagles to be energy self-sufficient

Green renovation in partnership with SolarBlue will allow Lincoln Financial Field to generate all needed energy on-site starting this September.

Candace Lombardi
In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.
Candace Lombardi
3 min read
Artist's rendering of Lincoln Financial Field once the green renovation is complete. Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles stadium will run on self-generated energy as of September 2011.

The football franchise made the announcement today at a press conference Webcast from Lincoln Financial Field that was attended by Eagles owners Jeffrey and Christina Lurie, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell, and SolarBlue CEO Lee Maher.

The Eagles franchise believes Lincoln Financial Field will be the first major stadium in the world to convert completely to self-generated energy.

The team has partnered with renewable energy company SolarBlue, who is now "the official energy provider of the Philadelphia Eagles," according to the Eagles Web site.

SolarBlue will install and operate the entire system, which will consist of 80 spiral small-wind turbines around the perimeter of the stadium roof, 2,500 solar panels on the stadium's facade and canopies, and a 7.6-megawatt dual-fuel co-generation plant adjacent to the stadium that will run on biodiesel fuel and natural gas, SolarBlue CEO Lee Maher announced.

The split for energy generation will be 70/15/15, with 70 percent of the stadium's energy being generated by the biodiesel/natural gas co-generation plant, and solar and wind systems each producing 15 percent.

Per the terms of the deal, SolarBlue will invest an estimated $30 million to convert the stadium into a self-generating facility. In exchange, the Eagles have signed a 20-year contract in which it will pay SolarBlue for the electricity at an agreed annual price. The Eagles estimate that the deal will save the franchise $60 million in energy costs over the next 20 years.

Philadelphia Eagles owners Jeffrey and Christina Lurie sign "The Philadelphia Eagles Declaration of Energy Independence" during Thursday's press conference. Philadelphia Eagles

After the 20-year mark, the Eagles will then be free to use its self-generated electricity and sell any excess back to the electric grid. It's estimated the stadium will generate approximately 1.039 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, enough to power about 26,000 homes, according to SolarBlue.

"On behalf of our entire organization in partnership with our energy supplier SolarBlue, and the support of our friends and fans, we are proud to make the major commitment to power Lincoln Financial Field with renewable energy and encourage other sports franchises to join us," said Jeffrey Lurie, Eagles co-owner and CEO.

"Philadelphia was the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Well, today we are making our own declaration of energy independence. We believe it's imperative to be able to develop scalable and economical renewable energy sourcing," said Lurie who, along with his wife, signed a giant prop Philadelphia Eagles Declaration of Energy Independence.

"It is most exciting to not only have the greenest city in America but also the greenest stadium in the world right here in Philadelphia. The Eagles have shown time and again their commitment to going green," said Mayor Nutter.

While it's debatable exactly which city in the U.S. in the most green, Nutter has become known for his "Greenest City in America" campaign in Philadelphia, in which the city plans to be the greenest city in the U.S. by 2015.

While the Philadelphia Eagles are the first NFL team to go completely self-generating, they are not the first team to incorporate green technology into their facilities. In September, the New York Jets announced they would install 3,000 solar panels at their training facility in New Jersey. And NFL fans may soon see changes at other stadiums as well.

"The leadership being demonstrated here, our other clubs are watching. I think they may follow suit because they want to be responsible and do the right things in their communities. I think this will initiate a movement, and hopefully we will see more of this around the NFL," said Goodell.

Fans who sit in the nosebleed sections of the stadium need not worry that the wind turbines will interfere with their game enjoyment. Extensive testing was done at the stadium, and the spiral wind turbines chosen are quiet, and will not interfere with nearby bird wildlife, according to Eagles co-owner Christina Lurie.

In conjunction with Thursday's announcement, the Eagles homepage featured a video of what Lincoln Financial Field will look like outfitted for self-generation, as well as several other "Go Green" programs sponsored by the team. A Go Green calculator, for example, lets fans determine how much energy they might save by changing some of their habits.