SALISBURY, Md. — Two Perdue facilities will have more than 11,000 solar panels installed this summer, which will be one of the largest commercially-owned solar power systems in the eastern US. Perdue has entered into a 15-year agreement with Washington Gas Energy Services Inc. (WGES) to buy electricity generated by the solar panels at guaranteed prices.

Standard Solar Inc. of Rockville, Md. will install the ground-mounted solar panels, covering the equivalent of approximately 10 football fields, on Perdue property, by September 2011. Approximately half will be installed at the Perdue corporate offices in Salisbury and will be visible to motorists on westbound US Rte. 50. The others will installed be at the company’s feed mill in Bridgeville, Del.

Owned and operated by WGES, Perdue says the systems are expected to generate an average of 3,700 megawatt hours of electricity each year, or the amount of power used by 340 typical US homes. The panels will produce as much as 90% of the electrical demand for each facility at peak production.

“Stewardship is one of our company’s core values, so this is a perfect fit for the way we do business,” said Steve Schwalb, Perdue’s vice president of environmental sustainability. “Using solar power means we’ll have a clean energy source that doesn’t pollute or create greenhouse gases, while lowering Perdue’s energy costs over the life of the project.”

Schwalb estimates the clean electricity from the solar panels will reduce Perdue’s carbon footprint by 3,000 tons per year, the equivalent of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from 300,000 gallons of gasoline per year, or nearly 4.5 million gallons through the life of the contract.

This agreement is Perdue’s most recent in its commitment to being environmentally friendly. Last year, it announced a renovation of its corporate office that is expected to earn a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Gold rating for environmental leadership from the US Green Building Council. Three years ago, the processor signed a first-in-the-industry Clean Waters Environmental Initiative with the US Environmental Protection Agency to help poultry growers adopt best pollution prevention practices. Ten years ago, Perdue built the nation’s first commercial poultry litter processing plant, the only process that is verifiably removing excess nutrients from the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Washington Gas Energy Services Inc. is one of the largest competitive providers of electricity and natural gas in the mid-Atlantic region and supplies more than 315,000 customers in Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Standard Solar Inc. is a leader in the full-service development, construction, integration, financing and installation of solar electric systems.