(KCPW News) Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon announced a plan today to reduce electrical and natural gas costs by building solar systems for both electricity and heat in more than 50 county buildings. It's projected to save $2.7 million dollars a year. And the mayor says existing funds and taxpayer dollars will not pay for the project.
"Really, it will be little or no cost to the citizens. Instead of paying for utility costs, we are now replacing that with solar panels, and so we are excited that we are going to have a great project, probably one of the largest solar projects in the intermountain west, and we are going to be in the forefront here in Salt Lake," Corroon said.
Installation is projected to cost $91 million dollars, which would be provided by the company installing the solar systems. The county would then pay back that cost with the savings over 20 years. The solar systems will be put in place at 20 county office buildings, The Capitol and Rose Wagner Theaters, The South Towne Expo Center, The Children's Museum, and several county libraries, rec centers, and senior centers. Additional solar panels would be added to the Salt Palace as well.
Corroon says although solar technology isn't cost-effective enough to catch on across the entire state, the county has figured out how to make it cost-effective through technology, incentives, and financing.
"Well, Salt Lake County spent the last year figuring out how to make solar instillations cost effective. Utah is the state with the second most sunny days of any state in the nation, so we have the sun here and if we can do it here people should be able to do it in other locations in surrounding states, but we recognize that we're just getting going through this process, but we have found a way to make it work and we are excited about it," Corroon said.
The county is accepting bids for the projects and hopes to begin in 2010.