Solar Panels will soon be installed at InterChange’s Front Royal location thanks to a $99,225 USDA Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency grant.

Devon Anders, InterChange president, said over the phone that the company began exploring alternative energy sources to curb utility costs and be socially responsible in its energy use. So InterChange partnered with Secure Futures Solar, which is a Staunton-based commercial-scale solar developer, to pursue the grant.

He said InterChange, which opened in Front Royal in 2006, is a “third-party logistics” company that stores packaging and ingredients for food industries. The Front Royal location mainly houses products for Nature’s Touch Frozen Foods.

Anders noted that about half of the 48,000 square-foot Front Royal facility, located at 190 Toray Drive, is a freezer and the other half is heated.

This results in a $180,000 annual electric bill, of which the company plans to offset about 21 percent through the grant. Anders said the solar panels will solely be used to offset energy costs and the electricity produced will not be farmed and sent to power companies. 

Anders said the grant would cover less than a quarter of the $415,800 installation costs.

He said InterChange was inspired to pursue panels because its customers do not aim solely for profit and encourage social responsibility. That, along with the grant opportunity and potential tax credits, made it easier for InterChange to install the panels.

Anders said InterChange would also install panels at three Harrisonburg facilities by the end of November, at which time construction should begin in Front Royal. He added that InterChange hopes to also pursue alternate energy sources for its recently announced $41 million cold storage facility in Mount Crawford.

Erik Curren, Secure Futures Solar marketing and business development director, stated in an email that 4,698 solar panels would be installed on all four buildings. He did not have a specific breakdown as to how many will be on each facility.

InterChange’s 17 facilities are mostly in the Shenandoah Valley, and Anders said the company chose to pursue alternate energy in Front Royal and Harrisonburg based on higher utility prices.

In a joint statement regarding the USDA grant, Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine said: “investing in solar power is an important step towards cleaner energy that protects the environment.”

“We’re proud to announce this funding to help local business across Virginia meet their electricity needs through solar energy,” the release states.  

The release states that $610,000  was released through the grant and other recipients are Crown Orchard Company in Covesville ($200,000), J. Hodges Solar in Charlottesville ($249,000), Cana Cellars DBA Rappahannock Cellars in Hunty ($40,000) and Eagle Tree Farm in Colonial Beach ($21,775).