Taxpayers Save Money as County Installs Solar Thermal Collectors
The County’s Real Estate Services Department is overseeing construction which is contracted to Southern Energy Management, a North Carolina-based sustainable energy company.
The buildings and number of solar panels on each:
• 64 – Mecklenburg Jail North
• 32 – Metro School
• 21 – Medical Examiner’s Office
• 16 - CPCC Culinary Arts Building
• 8 - Wallace Kuralt Centre
"We're proud to be taking this step forward in the environmental sustainability of our facilities," Mecklenburg County Commission Chairman Jennifer Roberts said. "These solar water heaters represent our commitment to shrinking Mecklenburg County's carbon footprint and using clean energy technology to save our taxpayers on facility operating costs."
The Kuralt Centre’s system, which is wall-mounted rather than roof-mounted, will avoid using 25,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year, and the other four buildings will avoid using about 1.6 million cubic feet of natural gas per year.
Another unique aspect of the project is the number of solar panels installed on the roof of Jail North. Installation contractor Southern Energy Management has installed up to 50 panels on large military facilities, but never this many on a single building. "Putting 64 collectors on one roof is a big deal," SEM co-founder Bob Kingery said. “It's exciting to see Mecklenburg County taking a bold stance like this."
The project was funded by a $649,500 Federal Stimulus Grant and will pay for itself in less than 12 years.