Chisago County wins solar award

The Recycling Association of Minnesota recently announced the Chisago County Department of Environmental Services/Zoning was selected to receive the Green Project Award for the Solar Photovoltaic Array installation at the county’s household hazardous waste facility. According to RAM, the award was presented “in recognition of your trailblazing alternative energy efforts at your household hazardous waste facility. Within one year of installation, the solar array produced over 50 percent of energy consumed at the facility and has paved the way for new alternative energy projects.”

The facility, 39649 Grand Ave., North Branch, has been operating for 12 years, and has become a center for innovation, waste reduction, and general information for citizens of Chisago County.  In the fall of 2010, a grant opportunity was made possible from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Office of Energy Security, with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  With the approval of the county board, the department applied for and received a grant that paid 40 percent toward the installation of 3.2 kilowatts of solar photovoltaic panels at the facility.

The project was expected to reduce the electric power cost by 50 percent, reduce the carbon footprint and improve the value of the facility, and be a resource to other people considering solar power.  The installation occurred in June 2011, and after a year of successful operation, all these goals have been either met or exceeded.

The panels have produced 3,834 kilowatt hours of electricity so far, with the total amount consumed at the facility equaling 7,385 kilowatt hours.  The net result is that the panels have produced 52 percent of the electric power at the Facility to date, with the added benefit of offsetting 5,300 pounds of carbon dioxide.  Stop by and see the panels or see their operation online at: www.enlighten.enphaseenergy.com/public/systems/UXtT24783.

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