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Albemarle County Newsroom

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Albemarle County Realizes Savings with Solar Panels
3/19/2010

Albemarle estimates that the solar panels installed in February 2009 at the 5th Street County Office Building have saved roughly $19,000 in natural gas costs for 2009. This highly efficient system gathers solar thermal content through roof-mounted collectors to supplement the existing hot water system. In this process, less natural gas is used for heating water. It is estimated that as many as 206 gallons of hot water are used in the building daily, in part due to showers installed for use by police officers and firefighters. This new solar system allows the storage of high temperature water with a smaller environmental footprint, and also increases overall system efficiency. 

AltEnergy, the company that designed and installed the system, projects that the environmental impact will be significant as well, eliminating about 7,200 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) production per year.  AltEnergy’s founder Paul Risberg shared, “People often ask of renewable energy, ‘what’s the technology that would give me the best and most immediate return on my investment?’ We’ve found that these solar thermal systems are usually the most effective way for people to use solar energy because hot water is so commonly-used and in such demand in both businesses and homes.”

The County’s goal of using renewable energy is part of its overall energy conservation program. “As of February 1st 2010, the County has reduced overall energy consumption from local government facilities by 17% since 2005, and has realized an overall utility savings of $186,000,” reports Sarah Temple, Environmental Compliance Manager. Other initiatives pursued include energy audits, lighting retrofits, the installation of occupancy sensors, HVAC system setbacks and set points, an Energy Management Policy, and Countywide employee training. This project also supports the Board of Supervisor’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.

 


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