U.S. Foodservice-Los Angeles this week activated a 1.15 megawatt, 4,998 photovoltaic solar panel system, one of the largest solar projects in Southern California. It is expected to provide 16 percent of U.S. Foodservice-Los Angeles' power needs annually.

The U.S. Foodservice-Los Angeles division hosted a "Flip the Switch" celebration for local dignitaries, customers, employees and suppliers in La Mirada, Calif.

"U.S. Foodservice is continually looking for ways to reduce its environmental impact," said Gene Steffes, division president, U.S. Foodservice-Los Angeles. "Our goals are to safeguard the environment, minimize waste, conserve resources, recycle materials and provide customers with environmentally preferable products. Our new solar panel system is both good for business and the right thing to do."

With an expected output of more than 1.6 million kilowatt hours annually at its peak, the solar array will generate enough electricity to power up to 150 average U.S. homes for one year.

U.S. Foodservice is leasing the solar system from Del Solar, a global provider of renewable energy products. The installation project provided approximately 50 jobs in construction and installation related services in the community.

Stephen Torres, DelSolar's director, said the money U.S. Foodservice saves by going solar will more than offset the monthly cost of leasing the system on a long-term basis. The initial $4 million cost for the system was reduced by about 30 percent through the use of a federal tax credit, he said, and more savings were achieved through a Southern California Edison energy incentive.

Read more about U.S. FoodService sustainability efforts in this story from the January issue of HDT.