OV starts its solar generating project
Randy Metcalf/The Explorer, Enrique Valenzuela, left, and Gary Adams with Solar Structure Systems dig a hole for structure supports in the parking lot of Oro Valley Town Hall. Installation of covered parking and solar panels, along with numerous other projects, is expected to be completed by April 2011.

Oro Valley has begun construction on an array of solar energy panels above structures being built on the town hall parking lot.

More than 1,000 solar panels will sit atop several covered parking installations. Town officials say when the entire solar project is complete, it would offset energy needs at the town complex by as much as 60 percent.

The energy efficiency and solar components of the project will result in an average savings of $164,000 per year, according to town and industry estimates.

The $4 million project is self-funded through federal energy bonding, an Energy Efficiency Conservation Block grant and energy savings. Local costs are expected to be recovered through energy savings over the next 10 years.

Tucson Electric Power is subsidizing between 50 to 60 percent of the costs for the solar materials as part of its Renewable Energy Credit Purchase Program.

The town will also be issuing $2.4 million in taxable, direct-pay Clean Renewable Energy Bonds to help with the financing of the project.

All the buildings at the town complex would be on the solar power system except for the library, according to Bayer Vella, a planner with the town who’s spearheading the projects as Oro Valley’s conservation and sustainability administrator.

A total of six covered parking areas will be constructed and affixed with the solar panels through March or April of next year.

Vella said the bulk of the construction was planned during December, when many employees are on vacation and activity around the town complex is at a minimum.

No town council meetings were scheduled during the month, which also minimizes the impact from a lack of parking.

Town employees were encouraged to car pool to work, and use alternative transportation, during construction. The town also plans to provide transit services to town hall for employees from an off-site parking lot at the El Conquistador Country Club.

“We ask for the public’s patience during this construction period and assure all of our residents we are doing everything we can to minimize the inconvenience,” said Mayor Satish Hiremath. “The long-term benefits of this project will have a positive impact on everyone. We thank the public for their patience.”

For more information about the town’s energy efficiency project, contact Vella at 229-4810, or at bvella@orovalleyaz.gov.

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