May 25, 2012

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Salt Palace Solar Panels Switch On

Di Lewis

May 25, 2012

Clouds threatened to overshadow the debut of the Salt Palace’s new solar panel array. Luckily the sun broke through just in time for the 1.65-megawatt installation to turn on Thursday morning.

Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon said he hopes every home and business will eventually have photovoltaic panels on them. The panels on the roof of the Salt Palace comprise the largest solar installation in the state and one of the largest in the nation. Corroon said the completion of the project is an example of how well Utahns work together and the leadership the state is showing nationwide.

“It’s a big step, but only a down payment on what we can do in the state of Utah,” he said.

The $6.6 million array is made up of 6,006 modules, which cover a total area of 2.88 acres. The solar panels have an expected life of 30 to 40 years and are projected to offset 17 percent of the Salt Palace’s annual energy use.

Low energy rates in Utah make alternative energy a challenge, said Chuck Depew, director of National Development Council. Luckily the county went out of its comfort zone, he said, to create a forward-thinking project that will lead the state in future alternative energy development.

Corroon said the panels are only one part of the county’s commitment to better air quality in Utah. Salt Lake County is working on other photovoltaic, geothermal and other alternative energy solutions.

While he acknowledges Utah’s low energy rates make it more difficult to justify alternative energy, those rates are going to raise going into the future. With solar panels, the cost and energy output is known for 30 years.

Scott Beck, Visit Salt Lake president and CEO, said having a greener convention center is also a draw for those looking to come to Salt Lake City. He said enhancing the building with solar energy will act as a catalyst for more money to come into the community.

JPMorgan Chase Senior Banker David Sagers summed up the hope of the day when he said, “May the sun shine brightly on this spot for many, many, many years to come.”

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