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Summit County to install solar panels using Measure 1A funds

ROBERT ALLEN
summit daily news
Special to the Daily
ALL |

SUMMIT COUNTY – Six solar-panel systems are to be installed on county government buildings this summer with help from a tax increase voters approved in 2008.

The project is to involve about 114 kilowatts worth of photovoltaic panels. It will cost the county between $130,000 and $150,000 after rebates, assistant county manager Scott Vargo said.

Once installed, the systems combined are to provide about 11 percent in annual energy savings on the facilities.

“It’s not a huge percentage, but it makes sense in terms of reducing our utility costs – and then (in the ) bigger picture: clean, renewable energy,” county Commissioner Thomas Davidson said.

Vargo said the county’s request for proposals to install the panels has resulted in some “good, favorable bids,” and the costs seem to have been reduced since the initial feasibility study.

The contractor is to be finalized some time next week. The project is funded in part by ballot measure 1A, which voters approved in 2008 in part to reduce energy consumption in public buildings.

The county request for proposal states that as many as 18 more systems could be installed at other facilities in the next few years.

“This is our first foray into that kind of a project,” Vargo said.

Davidson said that other projects are to occur, but that the county will judge whether it’s better to install more systems in the near future or wait for more efficient ones to be developed.

“One of the things we have to deal with is the technology is rapidly progressing with these systems,” he said.

This year’s projects are to show a return on investment in less than 10 years, he said, with the systems having “completely paid for themselves and then begun generating savings.”

The biggest installation, 83.5 kw of panels at the Summit County Justice Center, is expected to reduce annual power costs by about 15 percent.

Davidson said Building and Grounds director Tom Auldridge and others did an excellent job of helping figure out the appropriate systems to retrofit the buildings, some of which are decades old, for optimum return on investment.

In addition to these projects, the county’s new fleet maintenance building near the Frisco County Commons – funded in part through federal stimulus finances – is to include a 10 kw photovoltaic panel to generate a small portion of the building’s power needs.

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or rallen@summitdaily.com.


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