Power from the Sun

Summit Count Health Department’s Park City building is now being powered by the sun.

This was made possible thanks to the work of the Summit County Sustainability Program and Rocky Mountain Power.

In keeping with Summit County’s Sustainability Plan and commitment to reduce carbon emissions 13% by the end of 2013, a solar photovoltaic installation on the County Health building was recently installed, serving as an example of incorporating renewable energy to help reduce the County’s energy costs. The system is now on-line producing an average of 250 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electric energy a day, and generating 92,000 kWh on an annual basis. The installation will save roughly one-third of the building’s electricity costs over the next 25 years and will prevent 1,795 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from entering the atmosphere. For comparison, the solar installation will generate enough electricity to power nine homes per year. While the solar modules are warrantied for 25 years, they typically continue to generate electricity for as long as 40 years providing cost savings for years to come.

Micro-inverters mounted to each solar module communicate real-time electricity generation to a link where the system can be monitored: https://easyview.auroravision.net/easyview/index.html?entityId=1775911

Explore the web-link to see how much electricity is being generated daily, weekly, monthly or throughout the lifetime of the system. The same information is linked to an informational kiosk in the lobby that brings renewable energy to life. Visitors can view a monitor that displays images taken throughout the course of the installation process and view the same real-time electricity produced by the solar PV system.

For a more direct experience with solar, visit the health department during the summer when the solar powered water fountain is running. A single pole-mounted solar module powers a water pump in the fountain. Simply shade the panel with your hand and watch the flow of water decrease. Remove the shading and the water flow returns to normal.

To date the County’s largest solar installation (70.8 kW) consisting of 267 solar panels, the project was generously funded by an award of $217,000 from Rocky Mountain Power’s Blue Sky renewable energy customers. The award was funded based on a proposed 40 kW system but thanks to the expertise of Gardner Engineering, the contractor selected through a rigorous RFP process, a 70.8 kW system was designed and installed providing the County with nearly 60% more electricity generation capacity for the same amount of money. We hope to create more sustainable programs like this one during 2014.