The Sandusky City Greenhouse has a bright idea to help pay its bills. Solar panels are up and running at the greenhouse, 620 Elm St., with some help from Honeywell and the Foundation for Environmental Education.
Twenty 55-watt panels were installed last week as part of the final phase of the city's partnership with Honeywell through the House Bill 300 program.
"Our goal has been to become a demonstration facility for horticulture and also for sustainable energy," said Tom Speir, greenhouse foreman.
Through the House Bill 300 program, the city greenhouse has received a number of upgrades to become more energy efficient.
Tuned boilers, a new heat-retention curtain, weatherstripping on all the doors and new double-paned acrylic panels have helped the greenhouse become more energy-conscious andself-sufficient.
The installed value of the new solar panels is about $20,000, but the city doesn't need to worry about footing the bill.
The panels were donated by the Foundation for Environmental Education, and the installation cost was covered through Honeywell via the House Bill 300 program.
The panels, which generate about 125 kilowatts of power every month, won't cost the city a dime, said Randy Roys, central region retrofit leader for Honeywell.
The newly installed solar panels are expected to decrease the greenhouse energy costs by about two percent every month. The output of the panels, and therefore the savings, will depend on cooperation from the weather.
Though maximum output will be on clear, sunny days, even cloudy days will yield some power.
"(Solar panel technology) has come a long way, both in the cost of technology and grants available," Roys said.
The solar panels are web-hosted, so anyone interested can go online and see the daily energy output. To view the information, go to www.fatspaniel.com, click on "live sites" and then click on the "T" for a quick link to the installer, which will show the Third Sun Solar Wind & Power for the Sandusky City Greenhouse site.
Since the panels have just been installed, it may take a few weeks for the site to be updated to include Sandusky's energy information, Speir said.
Though the installation may vary, these types of solar panels could be placed on residential homes.