Loyalsock Township is sold on solar energy.
Officials there are seeing the sort of costs savings that have made that alternative energy source a good investment.
Township Manager Bill Burdett recently talked to a group of area business people and governments officials about Loyalsock's investment in solar energy and the savings the municipality is expected to see in coming years.
SUN-GAZETTE FILE PHOTO
The Loyalsock Township municipal building is equipped with solar panels, which Township Manager Bill Burdett says will save the municipality about $140,000 over 30 years.
The municipal building on East Third Street with its solar panels atop the roof is testament to the township's decision to tap the sun.
Since installing the panels in December, the township has already realized a 50-percent savings in energy costs compared to last year.
But Burdett said he expects to see more significant savings later this year, when the building's energy costs normally soar with air conditioning.
Burdett encouraged others to think about considering solar or other alternative energy measures.
"People have to think down the road," he said.
Over 30 years, the township is expected to see $140,000 in electricity savings.
That includes savings from a lighting retrofit as well as electricity generated and used by the municipal building and produced by the sun.
Many people continue to be skeptical of solar energy.
After all, Pennsylvania with its many overcast days is not ever going to be mistaken for the sunshine capital of the world.
"A lot of people don't think we have enough sunshine, but we do," said Stacy Richards, director, of the Energy Resource Center, SEDA-Council of Governments.
SEDA-COG worked with the township on a study to determine that the lighting retrofit of the building combined with solar energy could yield significant savings in energy costs.
It was determined by the township consulting engineer firm, Larson Design Group, that the municipal building rooftop could use a 14.5 kilowatt PV solar array to provide about 15,750 kilowatt hours of electricity annually.
A federal Appalachian Regional Commission grant of $40,000 helped reduce the cost of the solar array to $80,000.
The township owns the system. It also owns the solar energy renewable credits (SREC's).
When a solar energy system produces 1 Megawatt Hour of electricity the owner of the system earns 1 SREC. That SREC can be traded and sold to earn returns on the solar energy investment.
Overall, the cost of the township's solar system and the lighting retrofit is projected to be $62,000.
Burdette noted that one of the biggest roadblocks faced by municipalities and businesses considering solar energy is the initial cost.
Richards said it makes sense to embrace solar energy as electrical costs are only going to increase.
Another of benefit solar is its low maintenance, she said.
Keevin Larson, president of K.C. Larson, Williamsport, which installs solar systems, said solar is just one of various alternative energy sources that has not been widely tapped in the U.S.
He noted that much Germany, where the sun shines about 10 percent less of the time than here, has embraced solar energy.