Maricopa County solar initiatives near completion

Phoenix is going to become a greener city, as Maricopa County is building the largest solar array installation in the downtown area. The addition will make homes for sale in Phoenix more attractive to buyers looking into real estate in the area.

In 2008, the county set a goal of increasing the amount of renewable energy produced by 2 megawatts by 2015. Because of the amount of sunny days in the desert city, the county’s decision to install solar panels was an effort that simply made sense.

More than 5,000 solar panels will produce enough energy annually to power 169 homes, while offsetting the carbon dioxide emissions from 266 passenger vehicles. The installation is also benefiting the county by generating more solar power and producing energy to sustain businesses within the city.

Of the three photovoltaic solar panel systems, the county has completed one system and is in the final stages of another project. Over a 20-year period, the green energy created from the installations will eliminate 59 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. Nine other solar thermal installations, along with the three major projects, are expected to double the original goal of green energy to four megawatts.

The first two projects are located on the Elections Department Sheriff’s Office Warehouse, which is near Third Avenue and Lincoln Street, and the installation will have 1,680 panels. The second project is located on top of a parking garage at the Facilities Management Department Building on Fourth Avenue and Jefferson, which will be the largest with 2,212 panels. The last project, which is still in the works, will be on top of the Downtown Justice Center at Sixth Avenue, and will be the smallest with 1,274 panels.

"This is extremely exciting. For too long we have neglected the energy potential of over 300 days of sunshine each year," Supervisor Don Stapley, said in a statement. "We want to reduce our footprint on the environment. We see energy costs consume more of our tight budget. And we want to support our national energy and security goals."

Over the next 30 years, Maricopa County officials believe the savings will estimate at roughly $5 million. The county’s nationally renowned Green Government sustainability program invested $25.3 million in energy and water conservation, including this project. The organization’s plan is structured to ensure the investment is returned in utility savings.