|
|
|
MailTribune.com
  • Solar power will cut costs at BLM site

  • The federal government plans to reduce its carbon footprint by installing solar panels at its Medford interagency compound, a move that could save some $6,000 annually in its power bill.
    • email print
  • The federal government plans to reduce its carbon footprint by installing solar panels at its Medford interagency compound, a move that could save some $6,000 annually in its power bill.
    In addition, it is upgrading solar power installations for two historic sites off the power grid in the lower Rogue River's wild and scenic section.
    The plan calls for installing 250 photovoltaic panels at the federal building off Biddle Road, said Jim Whittington, spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Medford District. The panels are expected to be in place by this fall.
    "The solar grid interconnected system will allow solar power to be consumed immediately once it's installed," he said of powering the facility by the sun's rays. "The excess would then be sold back to the local power company."
    The BLM shares the 50,000-square-foot building with the headquarters staff of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. About 200 people work there.
    The panels are expected to supply 40 to 50 kilowatts, generating $5,000 to $6,000 per year in power based on estimates made last year, he said. Estimated energy costs for the facility, including both electricity and gas, is $31,000 a year.
    "We're not sure how far the dollars will go," Whittington said when asked if the savings would offset the cost of the project. "But it will certainly help us in the cost of maintaining the facility."
    Funding for the project comes from $1.8 million in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 money the BLM has earmarked for renewable energy projects in the state.
    However, the agency will not provide the cost of the project until the contract is awarded, Whittington said, noting that releasing it before then would disrupt the bidding process.
    "But we hope to have the contract awarded very soon," he said, noting the cost would then be announced.
    The solar panels will likely be placed in a parking area, he said.
    "We have about four or five double rows for BLM and Forest Service vehicles," he said. "We are going to put covered parking on at least three or four rows and place the panels on top of those."
    The system will have no batteries. The power will flow directly into the building or back into the grid, he said. Local contractors will likely be hired to maintain the system, he added.
    The smaller solar panel projects on the lower Rogue at the Rogue River Ranch and the Zane Grey cabin at Winkle Bar are also being funded by stimulus money but are not related to the interagency office solar panel installation, he said.
    "Both are off the grid and have old, inefficient solar power systems," he said. "We are improving them and making them more efficient while increasing their capacity."
    Nationally, the BLM has received some $41 million in federal stimulus funding for renewable energy projects that include harnessing solar, wind and geothermal energy. It has 241 applications for wind projects and 199 applications for solar projects.
    In an effort to decrease dependency on foreign oil, the Obama administration has announced a goal of reaching 10 percent of electricity generated from renewable sources by 2012.
    For information on the BLM's renewable energy projects, see www.interior.gov/recovery.
    Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.
Reader Reaction
      • calendar