Appropriately, the sun was shining brightly when Collier officials activated the new 22 kilowatt photovoltaic solar energy system on the roof of the township's south-facing public works building off of Hilltop Road.
There also were lots of smiles on Sept. 25 because the system is expected to save residents some money.
It is expected that the solar panels, which have been operational since spring, will result in a net savings of $75,000 over the next six years, as well as reduce Collier's carbon footprint.
Because it is a grid-tied system that allows excess solar energy to be sold back to Duquesne Light Co., no batteries are needed and the township can get electricity at night or on days when the sun is not shining.
When public works employees go home in the late afternoons, the solar energy goes back to the power company and Collier gets credit for it.
"Our meter spins both ways," said Commissioner Kay Downey-Clarke, board vice-president.
To participate in such a buy-back system, a limited liability company must be set up, said Collier manager Sal Sirabella
The solar panel system, which was designed and installed by Scalo Solar Solutions of Crafton, is made up of 110 modules that capture energy from the sun for the generation of electricity.
Township commissioners awarded Scalo a $142,285 contract in October 2012 to replace the public works building roof and add the electric generating system to it.
It is 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.
He also called the project "a win-win for both Collier Township and the environment."
It was a leaking roof on the public works department building that led officials to consider the installation of solar power.
Solar panels must be positioned in totally sunny locations because even small amounts of shade can interrupt the collection of energy from the sun.
Carole Gilbert Brown, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.