Ocean View dedicates solar carport

Earlier this week, the Town of Ocean View, along with state officials, dedicated the town’s solar carport.
“Sunny days are more important than ever to Ocean View today,” said Ocean View Mayor Gordon Wood. “An old English proverb goes, ‘Make hay while the sun shines.’ Well, our hay with the new solar array is the about $50 a day we will earn from kilowatt hours produced on a sunny day.”

Coastal Point • Maria Counts: DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara speaks to the crowd at the dedication of the solar array carport at the Wallace A. Melson Municipal Building in Ocean View.Coastal Point • Maria Counts
DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara speaks to the crowd at the dedication of the solar array carport at the Wallace A. Melson Municipal Building in Ocean View.

The 260-foot-long, 24-space solar carport and an energy-efficient lighting upgrade to the Wallace A. Melson Municipal Building were made possible by two federal grants, of $458,000 and $30,000, respectively.

The grants were awarded through Delaware’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program, administered by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s (DNREC) Division of Energy and Climate. The federal grant funding came to Delaware under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, through the U.S. Department of Energy.

“This is a fantastic project,” said DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara at Tuesday’s dedication ceremony. “It’s just another example of the great projects going on in our communities and the state.”

Ocean View is one of 41 Delaware municipalities statewide that shared $5.46 million in federal grant funding through the EECBG program, receiving grants ranging from $10,000 to $500,000. EECBG grant projects statewide included heating and cooling efficiency upgrades, energy-efficient lighting retrofits, appliance replacements, window upgrades, adding insulation and solar energy installations for municipal buildings.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper said that the dedication ceremony was a special event for him personally, as he has been involved with solar panels since designing an array as a project while as a student at the University of Delaware in 1975.

“If we could capture the energy of the sun that bathes the earth in one hour, for one day, we could meet the energy needs for the world for a year. Isn’t that amazing?” said Carper. “The challenge for us is to figure out how to capture that energy.”

The Ocean View project featured Motech solar panels manufactured in Delaware, locally based engineering by Remington & Vernick Engineers, construction by John W. Tieder Inc., of Cambridge, Md., on a prefabricated carport structure manufactured by Schletter Inc.

The array’s benefits include a strongly positive environmental impact, reducing annual greenhouse gas emissions by about 61.4 metric tons — equal to taking 12 cars off the road for a year or planting nearly 1,500 trees.

“These are local folks, putting local products in … and putting a bunch of people to work,” said DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara. “Every dollar from this project, for the most part, stayed right here in Delaware. There’s really no better way to show what the kind of promise these technologies are than to show the economic benefits.”

Each state, including Delaware, was awarded a portion of $3.2 billion under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and through the U.S. Department of Energy to be divided in the form of grants among its municipalities to reduce fossil-fuel energy use and lower emissions by generating a portion of their own energy needs with renewable energy.

“When this program came online through the Recovery Act, the idea was to try to put local folks to work, building things that are going to create value to local governments and have a long-term benefit,” said O’Mara, noting the Town is projected to save $12,000 per year in energy costs. “It doesn’t get much better than this project.”