The Lee County Commission, in an effort to reduce costs and help the environment, has embarked on what is hoped to be the first of many renewable energy projects with the installation of Photovoltaic Solar Panels at the T.K. Davis Justice Center Complex..
Located at the newest addition to the Complex, the 16.56 kW solar panel system utilizes 72 of the highest-efficiency solar panels currently available on the market in both a pole and roof mount placement. The Commission has long been interested in making its buildings as energy-efficient as possible and the construction of the Justice Center addition was no different. But the Commission saw the importance of going one step further and began looking at renewable energy options that could also be utilized in the building.
With the support of Jay Jones, the Lee County Sheriff, the County Commission entered into an agreement with Auburn University’s Space Research Institute to install the 16.56 kW grid-connected solar-powered system at the Complex. By utilizing photovoltaic solar panels, the system takes advantage of the cleanest renewable energy source abundantly available in Alabama – the sun. It is also the first such installation in the State of Alabama at such a facility.
One of the key features of the system is its expandability. The County Commission’s ultimate goal is to expand the system to 150 kW eventually reducing energy expenses by a third. As a facility that is operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week the electrical expenses of the complex – averaging $29,600 a month – are a considerable portion of the operational costs. The cost savings generated by the system will be passed onto the citizens of Lee County by allowing those monies to be used in other areas.
Also important to the Commission is the systems access to citizens. Because this system will benefit Lee County citizens, it was vital that a web site be created that would allow for those interested to track the system’s progress. This web site includes up-to-the-minute information on the energy created, monies saved and the amount of emissions reduced. For those interested in more in-depth information, the site also includes tutorials on the various PV system components and an explanation on how solar panels work.
The Commission would also like to thank the Alabama Research Alliance, the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs Energy Division and Governor Bob Riley for providing the grant funding to make this project possible.
The Commission hopes you will visit this site often for live information on the system’s output. The site can be reached by following the Solar Panel Project link located on this site or by visiting the Lee County site at www.leeco.us.