Several counties surrounding Macon-Bibb have solar panels, but they are independently owned for private use. According to Sam Kitchens, Macon-Bibb’s Assistant Director of Parks and Beautification, Macon-Bibb County will be the first Georgia county to have a solar panel project for county use. The Bibb Commission will vote on building the 750-panel canopy at their meeting on Tuesday.
Spencer Hawkins, the Macon-Bibb Emergency Director, says these panels would help the county in times of disaster.
“[If] disaster happens our EOC has to work all of the time,” said Hawkins.
He says losing power is not an option for Macon Emergency Management.
“Now having three sources of power to continue that operation makes me feel much more secure in what we're doing,” said Hawkins.
He says now if the power goes out, the EMA can fall back on both their generator and solar power.
“I’ve got a very robust secure power generation for my emergency operation center,” said Hawkins.
Even on cloudy days, both the EMA and Macon-Bibb Government Center will still get power from the panels.
“Even on the cloudiest darkest dreariest days, you’re still getting about 40 percent coming into your panels,” said assistant director of parks and recreation, Sam Kitchens.
He says 750 panels will form a canopy over the parking lot behind EMA and the government center.
“Complete distance of the parking lot. All the way to Plum Street and the width of the parking lot,” said Kitchens.
He says the energy created by the panels will pay off the cost of the panels within the next few years.
“We should produce enough energy that on a day like today where the entire facility can run off these panels, so that we have zero usage coming off the grid,” said Kitchens.
He says an additional benefit from the solar panels is that it will provide covered parking and cut back on maintenance to the parking lot.
“We've structured it so that this pile-up project, if it does what we think it will do, it’ll be easy to just move it into other buildings,” said Kitchens.
Both Kitchens and Hawkins say that the county could benefit from adding solar panels.
“Being able to reduce our load on the grid reduce our carbon footprint, is a great thing for all of us,” said Hawkins.
If the commission approves the project, Kitchens says it should be complete this coming spring.
Mary Grace Shaw, 13WMAZ