MA Jail Nabs Juicy Grant for Solar Canopy

A jail in Greenfield, MA, has received a grant of more than half a million dollars from the state Department of Energy Resources to install a solar canopy.  The $545,000 grant will pay for a 436-kilowatt array expected to offset 26% of the facility’s energy consumption, saving about $92,000 per year in energy costs, according to the Associated Press.

The solar panels will be installed over the parking lot; two electric vehicle charging stations are also included in the project.

When it comes to putting solar power to work, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is a leader of the pack. CDCR generates about 23 megawatts of power from solar fields at five prisons – Ironwood, Chuckawalla, North Kern, Tehachapi and Lancaster. The solar fields are operated by SunEdison and are on land adjacent to the prisons – outside security, electric fence but within the property line.

CDCR estimates savings of more than $55 million over the life of the contracts (about 20 years). SunEdison is responsible for all the costs of building and maintaining the solar fields.

Earlier this summer, another correctional facility announced an energy savings initiative, though not one focused on solar. The AUSP Thomson prison in Thomson, Illinois, will benefit from more than $33 million in energy and water savings thanks to an energy savings performance contract (ESPC); the ESPC project is expected to reduce energy consumption by 53% across 13 main buildings, leading to significant reductions in utility and operational costs. The “budget-neutral” project is valued at $18.9 million, according to Ameresco, the energy services company that is partnering with the penitentiary.

Improvements to the AUSP Thomson facility in Thomson, Illinois, will include interior and exterior LED fixtures, HVAC upgrades, building automation system control upgrades, and new high efficiency transformers. Ameresco will also construct one megawatt of ground-mount solar photovoltaic arrays to displace retail electric consumption.



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