There was no sun in sight at Wednesday’s solar project unveiling, but officials said the panels at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility were still generating electricity — a lot of it.
“To date, combined all of our facilities that we’ve done, about 15 other buildings, we’re talking almost six megawatts,” said David Dise, Director, Montgomery County’s Department of General Services.
But the latest project covering ten acres takes the cake, saving nearly a quarter million dollars on the facility’s electricity bill annually.
About ten panels produce enough power for a house, so with 2,600 of them throughout the correctional facility’s property, that’s enough for 260 houses.
“When the photon light strikes the panel, it excites the electrons in the panel itself,” said Eric Coffman, Chief, Office of Energy and Sustainability. “It actually generates a current, which is then pulled down through wires and then over to a device called an inverter.”
The inverter converts the electricity, so it’s usable in a building, and in times of disaster, avoiding reliance on an electric provider can be crucial for those literally locked in.
“When there’s power outages, the individuals who are here, many of whom cannot leave here to go someplace else, will still have power and energy to operate these facilities,” said Dise.
“When you see these types of projects, not only does it save money, […] but it is also an example and a model for other industries and other sections of our economy,” said County Executive Ike Leggett.
The project had no up-front costs thanks to a public-private partnership with Tesla and Solar City.