Bentley Mills Logo

Date: February 17, 1999 Contact: Lisa Lilienthal, 404-814-1669
Interface Public Relations

NOTE: Day of event ONLY, call Bentley Mills directly at 800-423-4709


Bentley Mills to Dedicate Nation's Largest
Industrial Solar Power Array on February 19, 1999

(City of Industry, Calif.) Capturing and converting the sun's energy to power homes is no longer unusual, particularly in energy-conscious California. But harnessing enough solar energy to power even one tufting machine in an industrial carpet manufacturing facility? That's the vision for Bentley Mills of California, a division of Atlanta-based Interface, Inc., which will on February 19 at 10:30 a.m. dedicate the nation's largest industrial, majority privately-funded solar installation. Bentley Mills is located at 14641 East Don Julian Road in City of Industry. Interface, Inc. is a $1.3 billion global supplier of commercial interiors products.

"The 127 kilowatt (kW) solar array an important first step in Interface's global vision to become the first sustainable industrial organization -- that is, to take nothing harmful or nonrenewable from the Earth's crust and to emit nothing harmful into the biosphere as a result of its operations. More than replacing a small percentage of the electricity that powers this plant every day, this is a pivotal event in our company's history," said Ray C. Anderson, Interface Chairman and CEO. "It's a stake in the ground; a place where we can begin important research and development on the potential of solar energy to power our industrial operations worldwide."

Initiated by Interface Research Corporation and Bentley Mills and funded in part by the California Energy Commission and through the U.S. Department of Energy's Utility Photovoltaic Group's "TEAM-UP" Program, the solar installation at Bentley Mills has the ability to deliver more than 100 kW of energy to the plant's electrical grid at the middle of a typical-capacity work day. This equates to a reduction in electricity use of about 6 percent of the plant load for this $1 million investment. To put this in more familiar terms, the solar cells generate enough energy to power 25 to 35 average homes.

"Admittedly, this is a small initial energy offset for a manufacturing facility that utilizes an enormous amount of energy," explained George Maibach, general manager of Bentley Mills. "Today, solar power will not replace fossil fuel-derived electric power or even cost less than electric power. But the future will lend itself to other means of economic return, as solar-produced products become more in demand in the worldwide marketplace. And, along the way, we will learn a great deal about what we can do with nature's most bounteous and renewable resource."

Physically, the solar array at Bentley Mills is an impressive site. Located beside a local water tank, 448 panels measuring 4.2 feet by 6.2 feet each are stationed on over one-half acre of land. The solar panels collect energy from the sun during daylight hours, and an inverter converts that energy from DC to AC and controls the flow of power between the plant and the panels. The energy is fed immediately to the plant's electricity grid, which powers 29 industrial carpet tufting machines and a host of support equipment that works 24 hours a day manufacturing broadloom carpet.

"Today is an important day for the state of California, because this installation is significant both in size and vision," said California Energy Commissioner Michal Moore. "When California's restructured electricity system went into effect almost one year ago, we envisioned people having the option of placing small renewable energy power plants right where the power is needed and consumed. This project is the first large industrial system constructed under the program, and shows the potential widespread industrial uses for solar energy. When companies like Interface and Bentley Mills take the first step making their products from renewable energy, it shows their consumers and other companies what can be done."

The dedication of the solar facility at Bentley Mills is scheduled for Friday, February 19, 1999, in the parking lot adjacent to the solar array. Ray C. Anderson, chairman and CEO of Interface, Inc., will be on hand to describe his company's vision to become the leader in industrial ecology. Anderson has just published Mid-Course Correction, Toward A Sustainable Future: The Interface Model, and serves on the President's Council for Sustainable Development, a commission sanctioned by the President to make policy recommendation on environmental issues. Media are welcome to attend.

Bentley Mills was founded in 1979 with the goal of becoming the new floorcoverings industry standard for product design, quality, service. The City of Industry, Calif.-based broadloom manufacturer was acquired by Interface, Inc., in 1993, and is renowned for its stylish, yet sophisticated product offering, operational excellence and on-time delivery.

Aerial Photo of Facility
News Media: Click on photo to open larger, higher quality picture.
(JPG photo, 2000 pixels by 1455 pixels, 400 dots per inch, 935 kilobytes)
Use save function of browser to download photo image.

# # #

Return to Energy Commisison News Releases Listings Page

Return to What's New!