According to a report by Environment America, the United States can expect to spend approximately $360 billion more per year on fossil fuels by 2030 than it did in 2006. As global concern about rising fossil fuel prices and the resulting economic impact increases, momentum is building across the United States towards innovative energy efficiency strategies to implement economical energy solutions that benefit the environment.
As a result, schools, colleges and universities, state and local governments, businesses, and other organizations are turning to solar technology. On-site solar systems provide clean, reliable power and help local economic development to thrive, without burning fossil fuels or generating pollution, greenhouse gases or solid waste.
Innovative financing models enable solar installations
Through performance contracting, organizations can finance these solar power installations without a significant up-front investment. This method of contracting enables users to make energy-related improvements, save on energy expenditures, reduce emissions, improve sustainability, and address tight budgets. The resulting utility and operational savings can be used to offset the cost of the upgrades. If the guaranteed savings are not realized, the energy service company will pay the difference between what is guaranteed and the actual cost savings.
Organizations around the world are reaping the benefits of on-site solar power, including two municipalities that recently harnessed the power of sunlight to help power their operations.
The city of Baltimore has proven itself as a pioneer in energy self-sufficiency with a recently-completed solar installation at Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant. As part of an energy performance contract with Johnson Controls, the project is helping the city achieve its goal to self-generate 30 percent of its electricity.
The installation includes a 4,116-panel solar voltaic system that is spread across five acres on the grounds of the treatment plant. The one-megawatt DC system is capable of generating more than 1,276,000 kWh per year. By generating clean, renewable energy at a low cost, the city can free up dollars for other initiatives.