So-called “green” energy companies tend to spend more time assessing overall environmental impact, but the insect-sized carbon footprint of the job Alternative Energies of Kentucky completed Friday will be tough to match.
The Danville company located in part of the old ATR¿building on the South Danville Bypass finished up installing 74 solar panels directly across the street on the roof of the Boyle County Recycling Center. The system will be on line sometime early next week, which is right on schedule, according to Boyle Public Works Director Duane Campbell.
The panels were purchased by the county with about $71,000 from a $125,000 federal block grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Much of the remaining grant funds went to replacing all 435 light fixtures in the Boyle County Courthouse, a move which is expected to cut wattage use by up to 30 percent.
The 17,000-watt-per-hour solar system should provide most of the power to the recycling center, which could save the county up to $8,000 annually on utility costs. Campbell said there will be times when multiple pieces of machinery are operating simultaneously when the center draws off the grid, but often the panels will create excess electricity that will feed back to a breaker shared by the recycling center, public works and the Boyle County Detention Center, potentially cutting costs for those facilities as well.
Michael Carpenter, who did much of the installation work, said the county chose a micro inverter system, which has several advantages over a centralized inverter. The micro inverters will allow both the company and the public works department to monitor the performance of each individual panel in real time, information that can be accessed by a computer or smart phone.
Carpenter said the system also has benefits in case of emergencies, including shutting down automatically when the electric utility goes down for any reason. The direct current which flows through the panels is converted to alternating current, which along with large areas between the perimeter of the panels and the building facade, will make it safer for fire fighters in case of a fire, Carpenter said.
Danny Tolson, who also works with Alternative Energies, said the panels will have to be checked periodically to ensure they are structurally sound and that dust or dirt isn’t cutting down on their efficiency. They are expected to last up to 50 years and have a 25-year warranty.