This week, Solential’s hometown of Carmel, Indiana, is hosting the International Making Cities Livable Conference . Hundreds of guests from around the will be touring Carmel to experience all of the innovative things city leaders have done to make Carmel among the most attractive places in which to live and do business.
Solential is especially proud that Carmel was selected to host this prestigious event. In 2017 and 2018, it was named the Best Place to Live in the entire United States by the data company Niche and in our humble opinion, Carmel has only gotten better since then with more greenspaces, our famous traffic circles and growth of our art and design district.
There’s one more thing, too: Carmel’s decision to replace traditional energy sources at two of its water treatment facilities with solar energy. OK, we’re biased. We designed and installed the two solar arrays. While water and wastewater treatment are not “sexy” when it comes to what makes a city livable, they’re absolutely critical services. That Carmel added them to the mix of city improvements just shows how mindful city planners and leaders are of true city assets.
So in the spirit of the International Making Cities Livable Conference this week, I’m going to run through the Six Reasons Solar Power belongs in your city.
1) Pollution Free
At the top of my list is the fact that solar power does not create pollution. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Producing solar power does not emit any of the greenhouse gases associated with climate change. Fossil fuels, on the other hand, do create carbon emissions that lead to air pollution. Poor air quality can cause or exacerbate a variety of respiratory illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis. Choosing solar energy over fossil fuels is one of the best ways to decrease carbon emissions and improve air quality and public health.
2) Infinitely Renewable
Unless something totally unexpected happens, the sun will keep shining like clockwork with the exception of rainy days of course. Thus, solar energy is infinitely renewable and something communities can count on for energy. Even more than wind and hydropower, solar energy is also reliable and with new battery storage technologies and other innovations, we’re only getting started.
3) Reduces the Cost of City Services
Solar energy is among the cheapest sources of electricity. Solential has completed hundreds of municipal and county solar projects encompassing schools, correctional facilities, water and wastewater treatment plans, and administration buildings and in every case, energy costs have dropped at least 40% and often more than 50%. This is a huge benefit to both cities and counties that must provide a wide range of public services and are under pressure to keep costs to the public low.
Say, for example, the local wastewater plant was spending $20,000 per month on electricity. By moving to solar energy, they could reduce their monthly cost to $10,000, which represents an annual savings of $120,000. The savings can be banked for future infrastructure improvements or used to hold down or avoid rate increases. I know I would be happy not to see my monthly water and sewer bill go up! Also, there are federal funds available now to upgrade wastewater and water treatment infrastructure. Find details here.
Lower energy costs at schools and jails would also deliver significant benefits. Schools would have more money to put toward things like educational technology. Jails could also improve their facilities. In both cases, saving money on energy means they don’t have to keep asking taxpayers for more money. Huge community win!
And by that I don’t mean the white puffy things in the sky. Solential solar arrays are all connected to “the Cloud” via Solview, a maintenance app we developed that supports 24/7 remote monitoring of solar arrays we design and install. Solview allows city maintenance teams to track, in real time, the performance of their solar arrays and receive alerts in the event of a potential issue. Solview proved to be a huge asset during COVID-19 lockdowns as city officials did not have to go onsite to check solar arrays; they could monitor from the safety of their homes or offices. We are happy to set-up Solview dashboards to deliver the information city officials want and need on their solar arrays’ performance. As a side note, some of our school districts use Solview to support STEM education.
Solential also uses Solview to monitor all of the arrays we install to support preventive maintenance and ensure each array is generating the optimum amount of solar power.
6) Installed in a Multitude of Spaces
Solar arrays are typically installed in one of three ways: on the ground, on rooftops, and as canopies in parking lots and parking garages. There’s also a fourth option called “floatovoltaics” where the array actually floats on water treatment lagoons or ponds. Each option has its own pluses and minuses but the bottom line is, communities have a lot of options where deciding to add solar power to the energy mix.
Ground-mounted solar arrays are the easiest and less expensive to install. There’s also a lot of design flexibility based on the amount of watts you need to generate, availability of land and configuration of the land. Roof-mounted solar is a great way to get double use from space and based on the height of the building, can make the solar array less obvious. I really like canopies because again, double use of space, but also the panels also shelter vehicles, a nice bonus. Floatovoltaics also help reduce water evaporation and algae growth in water/wastewater lagoons. So lots of cool options to create a custom solar plan for your city!
6) Supports Mother Nature
Whenever possible, Solential encourages are solar customers to install pollinator habitats under their solar arrays. There is a practical reason: flowery plants and native grasses do not require mowing. You simply plant them and let them do their thing. City maintenance crews can check that job off their list.
From the larger perspective, pollinator habitats are the right thing to do for the environment. Solential uses only native plants and grasses which preserve local ecosystems while providing food and habitat for bees, butterflies, reptiles, small mammal like rabbits and chipmunks, and a host of other creatures. Each plays an important role in nature, whether it’s pollinating native species or crops, controlling insects, or simply being part of the circle of life.
Pollinator habitats are beautiful, can educate and inspire the community and serve as a point of pride. Hard to argue with that!
Solential is proud of the fact that in addition to Carmel, many cities, towns, and rural communities across Indiana and surrounding Midwest states are embracing solar energy and in so doing, making their hometowns more livable. Right now, there is a significant amount to federal dollars available to cities and counties to improve their communities and infrastructure, including funding for solar. If you’d like to know more, please connect with me, Corey Miller, at firstname.lastname@example.org or via text or phone at 317-627-4530.