“We’ve seen an exponential growth in solar over the past few years,” said Stan Edwards, Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection. 

Montgomery County’s innovative residents and leaders are embracing solar energy in a big way. 

“The Department of Permitting Services, which receives the permits to install solar, has seen tremendous growth in the amount of residents and businesses that are installing solar in the county over the last few years,” said Edwards. 

Edwards said solar panels seem to multiply in neighborhoods after the first ones go up. 

“When they see their neighbor have solar, they talk to them, and they have a good experience with it. Then, they are encouraged to do it, as well,” said Edwards. 

But the use of solar energy is not just for individuals. 

Montgomery County has begun incorporating this type of energy into its buildings. Once each of the projects are completed in 2018, it will save the county more than $1 million each year. 

“Utilities for electricity, water [and] gas is one of the highest line items in the county’s annual operating budget,” said David Dise, Montgomery County’s Department of General Services. 

County officials approved a project unique to the area that includes putting solar panel canopies over parking lots. The first one was put up a few months ago at the Holiday Park Senior Center. The canopy system was tested there before moving on to a project three times that size at the county’s largest building, Public Safety Headquarters. 

“It’s ongoing, but they’re probably about three-quarters of the way through. We’re expecting to be completed with this canopy system in about the next 30 days,” said Michael Yambrach, Capital Project Manager. 

“This will last forever. [There’s] low maintenance [and] high benefit. Everybody wins, [including] the environment [and] the county taxpayer,” said Dise. 

The county has a list of 16 solar energy projects that have been approved so far.