Stimulus-backed solar project complete in Wilmington

18 February 2010 - Honeywell said it has installed the first of two solar photovoltaic arrays for the City of Wilmington, Del. The work was backed by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) signed by President Obama in February 2009.

The solar installations, which will consist of almost 3,400 panels, are part of a broader $14.5-million energy retrofit and renewable energy program intended to decrease utility costs and greenhouse gas emissions tied to city-owned facilities and infrastructure. The program will help the city meet the environmental commitments it adopted as part of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. It is also expected to create or sustain more than 80 jobs.

The energy improvements are expected to reduce electricity consumption by an estimated 2.8-million kilowatt-hours per year. The program is also expected to decrease carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 4.4-million pounds each year.

The city plans to pay for the entire program from the energy savings the upgrades should produce. Honeywell said it guarantees approximately $1.14 million in savings per year under a 20-year performance contract. The improvements are expected to generate $16 million in savings above the guaranteed amount over the course of the contract.

Wilmington will use more than $9.5 million from a low-interest ARRA stimulus loan through the Delaware Division of Public Health's Office of Drinking Water and an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant from the Department of Energy to help finance the program at the outset.

The first solar array, one of several additions to the city's Porter Reservoir Filtration Plant, is expected to generate 650,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually and cover nearly 25 percent of the load at the plant. Honeywell will construct a second, roof-mounted array at the Public Works Yard and Municipal Complex, which will add 300,000 kilowatt-hours of renewable energy. This array will be financed by a Clean Renewable Energy Bond from the Department of Treasury.

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