Federal Stimulus helps Danville Virginia Go Solar

In Danville, Virginia, city fathers are planning to use stimulus funding, via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (distributed through the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Formula Block Grant), to install solar panels on the city’s market building in December.

The $202,000 grant will fund a 25-kilowatt (or larger) installation, for which Danville city officials are already seeking request for proposals. The contractor chosen must design, procure, install and commission the system.

The market is actually a train freight depot, now unused, that serves as a farmer’s market and community activities building located in the Dan Complex, or “Crossing of the Dan”, in the historic Tobacco Warehouse District.

Completed, it will be the first major solar photovoltaic installation in the region, and officials hope it provide enough electricity for the entire building (which will still rely on a gas-powered heating system).

More important, the solar energy system – which represents the city’s commitment to renewable energy and sustainable environment – will encourage other businesses in the community to go solar.

Any energy not used for the market, as in winter, will be fed back into the grid, according to Danville Deputy City Manager Joe King.

The project is calling for both solar photovoltaic panels and solar thermal energy (hot water heating), and the wording of the RFP suggests that any firm winning the bid would also be engaged in other renewable energy projects, and would additionally be responsible for helping the city find other sources of funding to complete the installation.

Danville has already made its first “green” venture by installing energy-efficient LED lighting under the Cree LED City Program, to its water treatment plant and Adult Detention Center.

On Oct. 28, the U.S. Dept. of the Treasury also awarded $29 million in bonds to American Municipal Power, Inc. (AMP) for a solar energy project in the City of Danville. It is one of 805 awarded across the nation that provides zero-interest development bonds for renewable energy. AMP, a member-owned wholesale power supplier, is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio and owns the 213-megawatt Gorsuch coal-fired generating plant in Marietta.

AMP’s investment in solar energy can be seen as a positive indicator that even coal-plant owners are beginning to see a future in solar.

Author: Danny Vo

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Posted in: Solar Policy

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