Solar supplements WG&L, Chamber power

Thanks to Albany Water, Gas & Light and the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, one of Albany's most prominent historic downtown buildings got a 21st century facelift.  The Chamber building now has new solar panels.

"Water, Gas & Light came to us and said 'where do we need to put this, that would benefit the city the most' and I said let's put it on the roof of the chamber," said Albany-Dougherty County Economic Development Commission VP Justin Strickland.

The 22 235-Watt Suniva Modules will have an annual output of almost 7,000 kilowatts, which is nearly enough to offset an average-size home's footprint.

"This will offset about 11 to 15 percent of our power cost each year for the chamber of commerce," said Strickland.

Strickland says he's hopes this new project will pave the way for businesses interested in these cost cutting panels.

"We hope to be able to use this to show businesses that they can put solar panels on their buildings and offset some of their power cost. It's also the first step into the green energy phase where people can generate their own power, feed it back into the system and offset some of their power requirement," said Strickland.

Strickland also hopes the panels, valued at about $26,000, will help attract new business to the area.

"It will show great ties between the business community and local government that we can be progressive," said Strickland.

All while saving money and helping protect the environment.

The Suniva systems were manufactured in Norcross, Georgia and local workers were hired to install the panels, so EDC officials call this an in house job.

The project was paid for in part with federal stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Here's More Information from the Chamber

The Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission and the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, has installed a 5 kW solar panel system atop one of Albany's most prominent historic downtown buildings. The panels will supply about 15% of the power the building needs daily.

The 22 235-watt Suniva modules- built in Georgia-  will have an estimated total annual output of 6,755 kWh, which is enough to nearly offset an average-size home's footprint. The panels are on the flat rooftop of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce building, where the energy produced by the panels runs through an inverter box and is directly consumed, thereby reducing the amount of energy the building pulls from the local energy grid.

"Albany has 224 sunny days per year, compared to a national average of 205 days, making it an ideal location for solar energy production," said Ted Clem, CEcD, president of the Albany- Dougherty Economic Development Commission. "Albany and Southwest Georgia are ripe with renewable energy sources, and these panels are a great way for our city to showcase its potential in an industry that continues to expand."

The systems were funded in part through a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority applied for the grant on behalf of the Electric Cities of Georgia (ECG) and the latter's municipalities, which include the Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission. System costs not covered by the grant were supplied by WG&L.

"Albany Water, Gas & Light provides everything from water to electricity to fiber optics, and we're thrilled to be able to bring this solar panel program to our community," said Lee Hauesler, assistant general manager of the Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission, ECG's largest municipal user.

Through the grant, about 15 of the Suniva systems, manufactured in Norcross, Ga., have been installed throughout the state by Radiance Solar of Atlanta. The panels will be active indefinitely.

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