The Napa County Library is expected to pay less for power this year, thanks to a new solar panel system that is now being installed on its roof.
Construction workers are installing a series of metal brackets for 219 solar panels, which may soon generate up to 81,000 kilowatt-hours of power a year — enough electricity for about 80 homes.
At the same time, construction workers are also replacing the 20-year-old flat roof with a white, energy-efficient coating.
The roof and solar projects, which started in November, are expected to be completed in February, said Frank Lucido, associate mechanical engineer at the Napa County Department of Public Works.
Initially, the Pacific Gas & Electric savings to the library will be more than $15,800 per year, and greenhouse gas emissions will be cut by 41 tons per year, according to Lucido.
“We put on as much as we could,” said Lucido, referring to the 64.5-by-39 inch monocrystalline solar panels. The solar project took shape just as the library needed a new roof. “The timing was perfect,” he said.
The solar installation at the library is part of a $3.3 million bond-funded project, started last summer, to install solar panels on a half dozen county-owned facilities.
The low-interest Federal Clean Renewable Energy bonds, a federally subsidized program, should be repaid in 15 years, Lucido said. Assuming power rates increase by 3 percent annually, the solar panels at multiple county sites could save an estimated $2.5 million in energy costs over 30 years.
The biggest solar project under construction is at the Napa County Sheriff’s Office, where more than 1,200 solar panels are slated to be installed over the next few weeks.
Since last summer, the contractor, Bright Power Inc. of Napa, has finished installing solar panels at the Greenwood Ranch Fire Station off Airport Road, the South Napa Homeless Shelter and the Animal Shelter, the Corporation Yard on the Silverado Trail near Yountville and the terminal at the Napa County Airport. More solar panels are slated to be installed on hangars at the airport in February, Lucido said.
The cost of covering the library’s 20,000 square-foot flat roof with the new “cool” energy-efficient material is about $144,210, with the funds coming from library reserves.
The old roof remains in place, thus reducing project costs and waste going to the landfill, Lucido explained. The metal material that covers sections of the roof visible from the street was installed in the 1990s and doesn’t need replacing.