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Solar panels cutting Jennings County library’s energy costs

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The Jennings County Public Library is using the sun to save a tidy sum on its energy bills.

A solar energy system is being installed. It features rows of solar panels on the roof and a large, rotating solar panel next to the library sign at the front of the building.

Jennings County’s library is the third- largest in the state to install a solar energy system and the first library to install such a system into a previously constructed building, library director Mary Hougland said.

“I think it is important to note that, though the price of electricity went up, our bill went way down, and the system is only partially installed,” she said.

The library’s energy bill for June 9 to July 9 in 2013 was $3,789. While the price of energy increased from 9 to 10 cents per kilowatt hour used, this year’s bill for the same time period was only $2,177, Hougland said.

She said she believes September’s bill will be cut to “virtually nothing.”

Like most institutions and homes, the library previously purchased its energy from a local company.

The solar panels capture photons produced by the sun and create a DC current that is turned into usable AC power for lights and electrical appliances within the library. The energy is stored in battery type structures for use when the sun is not shining, Hougland said.

Indianapolis-based Johnson Melloh Co. designed and created the system and guarantees it will reduce energy costs. Johnson Melloh also installed the solar power system used at Indianapolis International Airport.

The solar energy project is being installed at no cost to the taxpayer, Hougland said. Money to purchase the system was provided through a bond that will be repaid in 15 years through the reduction of energy costs, she added.

“We have been very blessed by several community businesses who have helped us keep the costs as low as possible. The First Financial Bank, Harmon Construction and Cassey Electric have really worked with us. I think it has been their way of giving back to the community,” Hougland said.

The library has remained operational during installation of the system.

“Workers worked all night so our operations were not interrupted. It was wonderful,” she said.

Completion of the project was delayed by the shipping process.

“Right now, the rest of the solar panels are on a boat somewhere headed for Chicago,” Hougland said. “... They will be here soon, and everything will be complete.”

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