Montgomery County goes solar

Montgomery County shed new light on one of its high-traffic buildings on Monday, activating more than a thousand solar panels at the Shady Grove processing facility and transfer station. The county is expected to save $200,000 by switching to green energy.

“It's the first county-owned and operated building that has solar panels on it, generating electricity,” said Bob Hoyt of the Montgomery Department of Environmental Protection.

The panels will contribute 30 percent of the electric needs of the facility, powering lighting, heating and cooling systems for the plant. More than 1200 panels were installed on the roof.

While similar installations can be pricey, the county paid no upfront capital costs for the system thanks to a $280,000 grant.

The project is set to run for 20 years. Within that time, it's expected to generate a tremendous amount of solar energy, enough to power nearly 600 average-sized homes for one year.

Knowing the level of return for this type of investment, the county plans on moving forward on more solar projects that include government buildings.

“New buildings will be built in order to accommodate the solar panels and some of the older buildings can be retrofitted to accommodate them, so this won't be the last,” said Hoyt.