DOWNINGTOWN — The Chester County Intermediate Unit recently completed installation of about $750,000 worth of solar panels on top of its Boot Road building.

To buy the panels, the Intermediate Unit matched a $500,000 Energy Harvest Grant with $250,000 of its own, according to Joseph Lubitsky, Intermediate Unit director of administrative services.

Lubitsky said Intermediate Unit energy specialist Heidi Kunsch helped to secure the Energy Harvest Grant through the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The panels will produce about 100 kilowatt hours of electricity and take up about 75 percent of the building’s roof space, Lubitsky said.

“We thought our building in Downingtown would be a high-profile installation that could heighten awareness for solar energy and even spark additional installations in other schools,” Lubitsky said.

By installing the panels, Lubitsky said, the Intermediate Unit will save about 10 percent, or $20,000 to $25,000, annually in energy costs. At current electricity rates, It will take about 10 years to realize a return on the $250,000 investment, but if the rates climb in the next 10 years, that would of course accelerate the payback time, he said.

“The savings made this an attractive project,” Lubitsky said.

The solar panels are part of a larger energy saving initiative taken on by the IU, Lubitsky said. He said the Intermediate Unit has saved about $300,000 in energy costs per year by making simple changes that came as a result of employee ideas. He said the ideas include keeping cooler temperatures in the winter and slightly warmer temperatures in the summer as well as making sure to turn off lights.

Lubitsky said the solar panels will also be part of an educational opportunity. He said the panels will be visible from a large conference room in the building, and a kiosk inside the conference room will educate visitors about solar energy and the panels.

Source: dailylocal