Solar panels up and running at Lee Co. Detention Center - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

East Alabama

Solar panels up and running at Lee Co. Detention Center

July 16, 2009

By Chris Vessell bio | email

Alabama tax dollars are now helping to save energy in Lee County. This week, the Lee County Detention Center began using electricity generated by a new solar paneling system.

72 solar panels are generating solar energy at the Lee County Detention Center.

"Our understanding is the Lee County Detention Facility, it's the only facility in the state of Alabama of its type that is utilizing solar power to offset its electricity consumption," Sheriff Jay Jones said.

A $200,000 dollar grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs and $50,000 dollars from the county commission paid for the solar panels.  Most of them are placed on the facility's roof.

"It makes it very appealing because people won't see solar panels all over the place, but in the meantime we're able to generate a lot of power from the sun to generate power of this facility," Roger Rendleman, County Administrator said.

The panels are currently generating 16 kilowatts of electricity, but leaders hope to expand the system. "Phase two would be adding additional panels in an area located here close to the addition of the jail that would increase our ability to generate nearly ten fold," Jones said.

"We have a goal to reach almost 150 kilowatts which would basically take care of almost 30 percent of the average power consumption at the facility which would make a huge cost savings," said Renleman.

And now the county government even has a website where you can monitor solar energy use and the savings for yourself.

"Citizens will be able to go there, see how much has been generated not only over the last week but basically since the panels have been put in place," Rendleman said.

To view the solar energy usage for yourself, click on this link.

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