Collier adds solar energy to public works building

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Sprawling Collier, which traces its roots to the 18th century, is forging a new path in the 21st century with its decision to install a photovoltaic solar energy system on the roof of the public works building on Hilltop Road.

Commissioners voted Oct. 10 to award Scalo Solar Solutions of Crafton a $142,285 contract to replace the building's roof and add the electric generating system to it. The project will begin next month and will be completed by the end of the year with a 30-year guarantee on the roof.

It will be the first such operation for a government building in Allegheny County.

"Collier Township is a pioneer among municipalities in Pennsylvania for having the creativity to include renewable solar energy as part of its sustainability initiative," said Jack Scalo, CEO and president of Scalo Solar Solutions and a township resident.

"I am very excited that we are able to partner with them on this project, which will result in a win-win for both Collier Township and the environment," he added.

The photovoltaic solar system will have 110 modules to capture the sun's energy and generate electricity that will be used by the building, which faces south. The electricity the system produces will reduce township utility costs and decrease its carbon footprint.

It is estimated that the 22kW photovoltaic system will result in a $75,000 net savings over the next six years. Also, because the system will be grid-tied, the township may sell back unused electricity to the power provider in the seventh year. Because this system doesn't require batteries, it will allow the township to obtain electricity from the grid at night or when the sun isn't shining.

However, in order to participate in such a buy-back program, a limited liability company must be set up, said township manager Sal Sirabella.

Mr. Sirabella added the township has been working on this solar energy project for more than a year and is considering solar energy as well for the roof of the new community center at the park now under development off Nike Site Road. The township is also looking into grant money to fund it.

Bob Schuler, commissioners' president, said he hopes the township's energy position will be an inspiration to the rest of the municipality.

"Collier Township is committed to taking a leadership role in sustainability in our community," he said. "It's Collier's goal that our green efforts will encourage our residents and businesses to adopt similar environmentally friendly initiatives."

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Carole Gilbert Brown, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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