Kennesaw park officials estimate the solar panels will save $25,000 a year in energy costs.
“It will save us utility costs that can be used for other park needs,” said Dr. Stanley Bond, park superintendent. “One of the priorities of the National Park Service is to reduce the parks’ carbon footprint, and obviously that’s one way we can reduce our carbon footprint.”
Workers began installing the 288 solar panels atop the visitors center on Thursday. The project is expected to be completed in three weeks.
The solar panels will generate most, if not all, of the electricity at the visitors center, Bond said. As part of an interconnection agreement with Cobb EMC, excess power generated during the day by the photovoltaic system will be transferred to other customers, he said.
The solar panels can produce up to 70,000 watts of power during ideal sun conditions, said Bob Saunders of AEG Power Solutions USA Inc., which produced the solar panels.
For 35 years, Walter McDaniel, 77, of Marietta, has regularly run through the park. When he saw the solar panels being installed, he became concerned about the project’s cost to taxpayers.
“There’s a sign there that says, ‘Your stimulus dollars at work,’” McDaniel said. “It seems like it’s a real expensive program.”
In April 2009, the National Park service announced that nearly 800 projects across the country will receive funding totaling $750 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 passed by Congress.