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Pocono Raceway goes solar

By Jeremy Harlan, CNN
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Pocono Raceway solar farm
  • Pocono Raceway opens the track's solar farm this weekend
  • The business invested $16 million in the project
  • There are 39,690 solar panels on the farm

Long Pond, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- Forget about Philadelphia -- Brandon Igdalsky hopes it's always sunny in the Poconos.

Igdalsky, the president of Pocono Raceway, along with track CEO John "Doc" Mattioli and their families, officially opened the track's 25-acre solar farm this weekend. When fully operational, the farm will produce between 3 million to 4 million kilowatt hours per year. It will provide all of the power for the track, and will also add electricity to the local power grid.

"Several hundred thousand dollars a year is what our electric bill is," said Igdalsky, standing next to one of 39,690 solar panels on the farm. "We're spending almost $16 million to put this project in. We're not going to have an electric bill anymore, and we'll also be benefiting the grid when we're not drawing power and supplying energy to the grid that will go to our neighbors' homes ... almost close to a thousand homes with this project."

"We started thinking about it about five years ago," said Mattioli. "I read about solar energy and I had the idea [to put] the panels on top of our grandstand, the building, and all the garage buildings."

After research, track officials determined that a parking lot adjacent to the track would be the best placement for the panels.

The solar farm sprung into action this weekend with a visit by NASCAR's top racing circuit, the Sprint Cup Series, as well as the Camping World Truck Series and ARCA circuits.

"This is the largest solar project, [the] largest renewable energy project at any stadium anywhere in the world -- not just America, but the world. We're the largest solar plant in Pennsylvania; [the] tenth largest in the country," Igdalsky said.

The solar power system was developed by enXco, a company that creates, constructs, and operates renewable energy projects throughout the United States.

"All the power that's being supplied to the garages, all those electric tools that they're using is plugged into our outlets," Igdalsky said. "We're providing power for all the lights, the water pumps, the heaters, the air conditioners, all the computers that are running, anything that is plugged-in out there to the buildings. ... If you're plugged into an outlet in there, you're using solar energy."