Solar on the New Municipal Building Would Save Berkeley Heights Taxpayers Money

Solar on the New Municipal Building Would Save Berkeley Heights Taxpayers Money

Thank you for doing such great research on the benefits and costs of solar panels on our municipal complex, Howard!!!

By Howard Lee

During the mayoral candidates’ debate, our mayor said there was no plan to install solar power on the new municipal building because it was “too expensive.” In reality it would save taxpayer money. Here’s how:

I reached out to several solar industry professionals, and they told me that the municipal building roof could host enough solar panels for a 141 kW system that would generate, here in NJ, on a southeast-facing roof, about 183,000 KWh/year. The town budgets about $335,000 in electricity spending (2017 budget), a significant portion of which would be offset by a solar power system. Exactly how much depends on the financing.

A lease with $0 down, which saves taxpayers the least money but removes the need to find funds to purchase the roughly $340,000 system, would save taxpayers around $6,400 in year one, around $7,000 in year 2, with rising savings over time as grid electricity becomes more expensive, amounting to approximately $400,000 over 20 years. A fully-owned system (eg through a loan paid back by savings on electricity bills) could save more than $20,000 in year one, rising to roughly $55,000 per year after 20 years, saving a total of about $750,000 in the system lifetime. These estimates apply even though municipalities can’t reap the same tax incentives afforded to residential and commercial solar customers.

It doesn’t have to stop there.

The electricity savings could be multiplied by adding solar car ports (you can see examples in the L’Oréal office near Lifetime Fitness) and/or by putting solar panels on other township roofs, like the wastewater treatment plant. There is even the possibility of “Community Solar” in which our community can collectively subscribe to solar electricity generated by the town. And… it’s clean energy that could save around 100 tons of CO2 emissions each year from the municipal building alone, a small but necessary contribution to the reductions needed to preserve the environment for our kids.

I support Angie for Mayor, and Stephen and Alvaro for Council, because I know they won’t leave a stone unturned to save taxpayer money and preserve a future for our children.

Originally published in Tapinto Berkeley Heights

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