Frito-Lay's Arizona plant using five solar installations on site

Frito-Lay goes solar in ArizonaWhether its SunChips, Doritos, Lay’s, Cheetos or Fritos, many of your favorite Frito-Lay snacks are now coming out a plant that gets two-thirds of its power from onsite renewable resources, including five different solar installations on one site in Casa Grande, Ariz.

The company, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, remodeled the facility as a near net-zero facility.

“The ‘near net zero’ vision was to transform an existing facility so that it would be as far ‘off the grid’ as possible and run primarily on renewable energy sources and recycled water, while producing nearly zero landfill waste,” the company said in a press release.

The company’s five solar installations include ground-mount arrays, some on dual-axis trackers, some on single-axis trackers. They also include single-axis trackers over parking spaces and 10 Stirling engine systems on dual-axis trackers, according to Frito-Lay.

“One of the largest solar PV systems at Casa Grande sits on 36 acres of land northwest of the facility and includes about 18,000 panels,” said Effie Delimarkos, a spokesperson for Frito-Lay. “One-third of the 18,000 panels are owned and operated by Frito-Lay while the remaining two-thirds were installed through a power purchase partnership with the local utility, Arizona Public Service, and a third-party solar developer, Solar Power Partners,” she said.

The company wanted to get the most out of the sun, according to Delimarkos.

“Frito-Lay chose to install five separate solar photovoltaic systems throughout the property to maximize the available benefits, to harness as much power as possible, to utilize the available land and to provide some additional benefits to our employees,” she said.

In addition to getting most of its electricity from solar, the company also made some pretty significant sustainability achievements at the site. It’s reduced natural gas usage by about 80 percent, can recycle up to 75 percent of water used onsite, is reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent and less than 1 percent of waste produced at the plant is sent to landfills, the company said.

The company switched from a natural-gas fired boiler to a biomass boiler, cutting its natural gas usage by 80 percent. The wood and agricultural waste used in the biomass boiler comes from wood collection points in Tucson and in the future Phoenix, Delimarkos said. While the boiler will provide all the steam needed onsite, it won’t be used to generate electricity.

The snack-maker doesn’t plan to rest on its laurels either.

“Moving forward, Frito-Lay will leverage key learnings from the Casa Grande plant and apply them to other facilities where appropriate,” Delimarkos said. “Every Frito-Lay plant is identifying projects and approaches to get closer to ‘near net zero’ and to significantly reduce its environmental footprint.”

PepsiCo will also use the lessons learned as it looks into greening operations at its other facilities.

Image courtesy of Frito-Lay.