UNION COUNTY – The Union County Renewable Energy Program kicked off last year to bring clean, low cost solar power to more than two dozen public buildings throughout the county, and the first three projects are now in operation. As of Dec. 1, rooftop installations at the Cranford Library, Cranford Community Center, and Linden Library began generating electricity from photovoltaic panels.
“Union County has demonstrated its strong commitment to clean energy programs and Cranford appreciates the efficient execution of the solar project,” said Cranford Mayor Daniel Aschenbach. “We would welcome the opportunity to participate in further solar installations.”
“These new solar installations began saving money the minute they started running and they will help reduce the use of fuels that pollute our air,” said Freeholder Chairman Deborah Scanlon. “Solar energy is a more sustainable way to power our Union County communities and our economy.”
The Renewable Energy Program was arranged by the Union County Improvement Authority through power purchase agreements, which are common throughout the solar industry. In power purchase agreements, the property owners do not own the solar equipment. They simply pay for the electricity generated by the photovoltaic panels, at a rate lower than the price of conventional electricity.
“By participating in this program, our local governments and other public entities have taken Union County on the first steps toward a clean, renewable energy future,” said Charlotte DeFilippo, Executive Director of the Improvement Authority. “Union County residents can be proud to claim this historic transition as a generational accomplishment.”
The contractor for the Renewable Energy Program, Tioga Energy, Inc., installs, maintains and operates the solar installations.
Each solar panel measures approximately three feet by five feet. The Cranford Community Center is the largest installation, consisting of 292 panels. It is capable of generating about 67,000 kilowatt hours per year, at a savings of about 8 cents per kilowatt hour.
The installation at the Cranford Public Library consists of 186 panels and is expected to save about 8 cents per kilowatt hour. The Linden Public Library installation consists of 86 panels and will save about 6.6 cents per kilowatt hour.
Along with Cranford and Linden, the participating governments and public entities are Garwood, Hillside, the Hillside Board of Education, Morris-Union Jointure, the New Providence Board of Education, Plainfield, Roselle, the Roselle Board of Education, Roselle Park, Springfield, Union County College, Union County Vo-Tech Schools, and the Winfield Board of Education.
Union County is also participating, with solar installations for the Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway and the County Administration Building in downtown Elizabeth.
The total comes to 27 solar installations, all of which are expected to be completed within the next year.
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