In this area of the United States, I tend to see solar panels that are likely government-owned fairly often. I don’t know if its the case across the nation, but at least in Oregon and Washington, we’re pretty green. From solar-powered traffic signals and other solar-powered signs, you may find it surprising that the Pacific Northwest – known for its rain – has installed so many solar panels.
I recently wondered whether other government buildings, including libraries, schools, city halls and more, have converted to solar power. My search turned up a number of solar panels on government buildings. I’ll start in Oregon.
In mid-2007, Multnomah County, near Portland, Oregon, announced that it would become the largest solar provider in the region when it installed solar panels on 8 of 10 County buildings. The electricity generated would be equivalent to 1 million kilowatts per year. The energy the County does not need would be sold back to the utility. The cost to taxpayers – virtually zero!
Just last month, Clark County – across the Columbia River from Portland, in Washington State – issued a press release that it would be installing 618 solar panels on various county rooftops. Each panel can generate 224 watts of energy. A special deal was entered into with the contractor, Johnson Controls, whereby the taxpayers will not have to pay anything for the installations.
Let’s go to the East Coast now. In Massachusetts, solar panels will be installed on government-subsidized housing, at tremendous savings to both the taxpayers and residents:
So, what is going on here in my hometown of Bend, Oregon? Perhaps the most noteworthy of solar panels on government buildings is the installation of a 32-panel system on Summit HIgh School in late 2004. The system, funded through a grant by the Energy Trust of Oregon, generates over 7,000 kilowatts of energy. It is a great learning experience for students and teachers alike.
Not too surprisingly, Hawaii is getting into the solar game. About a year ago, the state announced that it would install solar panels on four buildings at a Department of Accounting and General Services yard. The roof area covered is about 71,000 square feet. The state comptroller commented:
“In the state government, we’re doing something called ‘Lead by Example,’ and so we’re doing things to reduce consumption or move towards alternate energy sources where we can.”
Lead by Example is precisely what governments should be doing! I hope to post more about the renewable energy efforts of many local, state and federal governments soon.
Has your city or state installed solar panels? If so, please let me know!