Carlstadt company wrecked by Sandy celebrates new solar panels – Hunterdon County Democrat

January 23, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

CARLSTADT — The solar panels on the roofs of Pictorial Offset’s two buildings went online during the summer of 2012.

The panels are expected to produce 20 percent of the Carlstadt printing company’s electricity every year.

But the panels, like the rest of the company, went cold and dark for 16 days after Hurricane Sandy flooded the company’s facility with a foot of water.


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When company president Don Samuels arrived at the plant the day after the storm, he found paper floating through the hallways and fish in the parking lot.

“We had a disaster planning program. However, nothing could prepare us for what transpired,” he said.

Nonetheless, the company got to work the next day, vacuuming out the water and pulling machinery out of the darkened buildings, he siad. The work has been slow and tedious.

It was still incomplete on Wednesday, when the company finally held a ribbon cutting for the 757-kilowatt solar system. The floors were bare and the walls were stripped to their frames halfway up to the ceiling, allowing visitors in the hallway to see the feet of some of the 200 employees at work in their office.

Like Pictorial, the solar market has been recovering from its own disaster. The price of solar renewable energy certificates, a tax incentive for producing solar energy, dropped to $60 in 2012, from a highs of around $400.

That made many companies reluctant to invest in solar energy, even after the state passed a law to stabilize the market last summer. The Pictorial Offset solar panels are mostly funded by a PSEG solar loan.

In exchange for the loan, PSEG gets credit for the energy produced by the solar panels, which were installed by Solis Partners of Manasquan.

Carlstadt Mayor William Roseman, Bergen County Freeholder John Mitchell and Assemblywoman Marlene Caride (D-Bergen, Passaic) attended the ribbon-cutting.

Samuels called on them for help in recovering from Hurricane Sandy and for protection from future storms. He estimated that the storm dealt $10 million in damage to Pictorial offset.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency pledged at least $1 million to the company, but the amount of damage insurance will cover is unclear, Samuels said.

“If I could deliver one message: Please help in the state, please help on the county level, please help on the town level,” he said. “Help us rebuild. Help us support the employees that work for us.”

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