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Apr. 22—Frederick County government will increase its solar array capacity after local officials announced a solar canopy will be constructed in a parking lot by an office building for the county's public works and parks and recreation divisions.
During an Earth Day news conference, County Executive Jan Gardner (D) and Shannon Moore, manager of the county's Office of Sustainability and Environmental Resources, said the canopy will be in the parking lot of the Bourne building at 355 Montevue Lane in Frederick and reduce electricity costs by 15-20 percent annually.
Overall, the project is expected to generate 75 kilowatts of energy and include another four electric vehicle charging stations, Gardner said. There are already two stations at that location.
Preliminary plans consist of two structures of 84 panels each, but design work begins later this month. Tyler Muntz, the project manager within the Division of Public Works, said cost estimates are around $450,000.
Gardner said $45,000 of that is expected to come from a state grant. The rest will come out of the county's capital budget, within the Division of Public Works, Muntz said.
That division deals with projects ranging from solar structures to new facilities to storm and facility retrofits, Muntz said. Bids for the solar canopy are expected later this year, and construction should begin next spring, Gardner said.
Moore and Gardner said after a news briefing that lessening the county's reliance on fossil fuels is both looking for opportunities for projects like this, along with buying energy from larger solar arrays in the region.
"It's not just looking for more individual sites for solar, some of the greater efficiency ones are actually these much larger installations where we can buy electricity from them," Moore said.
The county executive said she's always looking for county-owned land that's fit for solar arrays or similar projects. That type of work might encourage private businesses to follow suit, especially companies with large parking lots or roofs.
"Doing the solar canopy, I've had people who said they've see them elsewhere on their travels, so part of it is leading by example," Gardner said. "We try to show there are ways to do this, and to encourage others to follow suit."
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