Overton Brooks cashing in on sun savings - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Overton Brooks cashing in on sun savings

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Contractors have been busy erecting car ports at the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center since October of last year. Upon closer inspection, you will notice that solar panels make up the tops of these covered parking areas.

Hypower, Incorporate of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, plus numerous local contractors are installing roughly 5,000 solar panels producing 1.3 mega watts of electrical energy on the car ports.

These solar panel covered canopies will have several uses according to George Thomas, the Energy Engineer at the VA Medical Center:

The focus for the solar panels is to provide a renewable energy source to the facility, to reduce our dependency on a commercial source of power, be more independent, reduce our greenhouse gas and provide a covered area to our veterans when they come to our facility during inclement weather or hot weather, "said George Thomas.

The reasoning for the project is that the department of energy mandates it.  The solar systems are supposed to help the medical center comply with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and Executive Order 13423.

The Energy Policy Act requires that at least five percent of the VA Medical Center's electricity needs come from renewable sources like solar power and the executive order requires that at least half of the energy is produced from new sources again like solar power.

The solar panels will provide a significant electrical utility savings to the hospital which should free up needed funding for patient care.

"If you look at a cost benifit, we'rebenefit about 22 cents per watt for the panels and we're gaining $100,000 per year for this facility in electrical savings, "said George Thomas.

And all of the electrical power generated stays at the site. Everything that is produced is going to be used on the facility,nothing goes back to the grid, all the energy will be used here.

Sandy Franks, the Public Affairs Officer for the VA Medical Center says the utility pay back will be put to good use.

One of the things that when we talk about the energy savings is the money we don't pay for energy will stay with this facility. Its not going to go into a central fund. It doesn't go back to Veteran Administration in Washington, it stays at Overton Brooks VA Medical Center. So, those savings can be used for other projects.  Say we have a piece of medical equipment we need to replace or we have something we want to do in the hospital for our veterans or maybe we have a program we want to start up, we can do that that money will go to those events or those projects," said Sandy Franks.

Finally, carbon emissions will be greatly reduced as the local power plant won't have to work as hard with the VA's lower energy needs.

This project will allow us to save 100 metric tons of greenhouse gas per month roughly or we can save 1000 metric tons per year.

So, the future looks bright at the VA Medical Center thanks to those 5,000-264 watt solar panels covering the parking lots.  And it may be that way for years to come as the panels have quite the long term guarantee.

"They have a 25 year warranty and we expect 30 years out of those panels," said George Thomas.

Now that's getting your tax payer dollars worth!
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