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Solar Panel Project Completed at Library

This is part of the county's first phase of solar energy projects in 15 municipalities.

With construction on all  that are currently being worked on throughout the county expected to be completed by the end of the year, the county held a ribbon cutting Tuesday to celebrate the completion of the work on the .

“There were a lot of people involved in making the project what it is,” said Somerset County Freeholder Director Robert Zaborowski. “The total system will save taxpayers $18.35 million over the 15-year period of the project.”

And the solar panels across the county will save 15.5 million pounds of carbon emissions.

The completion of solar panels on the library is part of phase one of the county’s solar energy initiative through the Somerset County Improvement Authority.

In 2010, the county hired Vanguard Energy Partners, of Branchburg, to construct solar arrays on a total of 31 public sector rooftops in 15 of the municipalities.

In addition to the library in Bridgewater, Zaborowski said, there are already solar panels at the , and more are planned for the , and .

Representatives from the library, county, township, state and Vanguard Energy Partners turned out for the official ribbon cutting at the library, marking the completion of the project on that building.

According to Zaborowski, the county approved an ordinance last year for $40 million in Improvement Authority bonds to pay for the project, and half of that will be paid back by the end of the year.

“And there will be no capital outlay for the municipalities or school districts,” he said.

Zaborowski said there will be at least 60 percent cost savings from each building with the solar panels. And the county, he said, will recoup all costs at the end of the 15-year project through the generation of electricity and the sale of the solar renewable energy credits.

“The end cost to the taxpayers is $0,” he said. “This is a win-win situation.”

In addition to the panels on the roof, each building will have a screen provided by Noveda Technologies, with real time accurate information about the energy the panels are producing.

“All screens can send alerts to an iPhone, Blackbery and iPad,” said Todd Hranicka, vice president of sales and marketing with Vanguard. “You can access the information anywhere.”

Zaborowski said this piece of the project can serve as an educational tool for looking at solar energy.

“You can track what power is being used, and generate a good understanding of what’s going on,” he said.

And Bridgewater Township Library branch director Marna Elliott said she will look to that screen when she gives tours to students in the library.

“When I come out here, I can ask if people know what they are sitting under,” she said. “Maybe we can have a sign up about it. People say it’s interesting.”

For Elliott, she believes the solar panels are just another way of being green.

“The library is the greenest service in town, and this is just one more way we can contribute,” she said, adding that in reusing books, the library is a green building.

“We appreciate the county finding the funds for this,” she added.

Zaborowski said Vanguard will maintain the panels for the life of the project.

Hranicka said Vanguard does solar panels for both businesses and municipalities, splitting the work with about 60 percent public and 40 percent private.

The company will establish a total of 7.6 megawatts of energy-producing systems in the different locations.

From there, Vanguard will sell the renewable electricity to the county at discounted rates.

Aside from the buildings in Bridgewater, the county’s phase one plans will put solar panels on the Somerset County Courthouse in Somerville; the Somerset County Emergency Training Services Academy in Hillsborough; the Manville Borough Library; Somerville Engine Company No. 1; Bound Brook Public Works Facility; Branchburg’s Central Middle School, Old York School and Whiton School; Franklin Township Municipal Building and Berry Street Garage; Franklin High School; Franklin Park, Elizabeth Avenue and Pine Grove Manor Schools in Franklin; Green Brook Middle School; Irene E. Feldkirchner School in Bound Brook; Manville High School; Weston Elementary School in Manville; Montgomery’s high school, Upper Middle School and Orchard Hill Elementary School; the arts building parking lot at Raritan Valley Community College; Somerville’s high school, middle school and Van Derveer Elementary School; and the Otto Kaufman Community Center in Montgomery.

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