Solar power is growing in Somerset County.
The Community Foundation for the Alleghenies recently announced $ 63,000 in sustainable energy grants to organizations in Somerset County.
“The Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund Advisory Board reviewed 14 grant applications this year and were impressed with the variety of proposals, from basic energy efficiencies and clean energy technologies to education and advocacy. Ultimately, the projects that reached the top had the potential to have the greatest kilowatt reduction impact for their respective organizations, ”Foundation Associate Director Angie Berzonski said in a press release. “In addition, the Fund was able to stretch its (grants) dollars this year to support additional projects. Since the two Somerset County solar installations will be grid-connected and certified, we were able to use the money available in this fund which is limited specifically for this purpose.
The Mary S. Biesecker Public Library received a grant of $ 25,000.
The library’s IT and facilities coordinator Morgan Simmons said the money would be used to install 111 solar panels on cantilevered structures above the parking lot.
“Instead of installing them directly on the roof, we can get more area and efficiency by installing them on cantilever structures above the parking lot,” Simmons said. “We’re going to completely wipe out the library’s electric bill.”
He said the panels will be able to produce around 30,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. The library, he said, runs on about 20,000 kilowatt hours per year.
“This part is classified for Somerset and this region in particular,” he said of the estimate of 30,000 and the amount of local sunlight.
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The plan, Simmons said, is to begin construction on the project this fall with the hope of being up and running before the end of the year.
Possible movie nights and other events could take place under the glass roof, he said.
“It is part of the library’s mission to continue to educate the community,” he said. “In this ever-changing world, he continues to make the library relevant here.”
The Somerset Conservation District received a $ 30,000 grant to install solar panels on Partners Hall at the Somerset County Education Center.
Conservation District Director Len Lichvar said it has not yet been determined how many panels will be installed.
“This is something we have worked on in cooperation and with the approval of the Somerset County Commissioners,” Lichvar said. “This is the first time, to my knowledge, that something like this has been attempted (locally) to establish a solar-powered resource.”
He said the panels should gradually reduce the cost of powering the building, but he did not have an estimated amount.
He added that the hope is also to use the panels to educate the public about solar energy.
“This is a whole new venture for the Conservation District as well as Somerset County,” Lichvar said. “So this is our first rodeo, so to speak.”
Lichvar said the plan is to start construction of the panels this fall and have them operational before the end of the year.
“Somerset County is looking to the future when it comes to energy,” he said.
Camp Allegheny also received an $ 8,000 grant to switch to outdoor solar lighting, the statement said.
Follow Eric Kieta on Twitter @EricKietaDA.