MOUNT VERNON — Using solar power to provide electricity at the Knox County Jail may be a way for the county to cut back on the rising utility costs weighing heavily on the county budget.
NexGen Energy Partners LLC of Boulder, Colo. prepared a letter of intent describing their proposal to build a ground-mounted system of solar panels which could produce 126,000 kWh of power annually, or 10 percent of the approximately 1.2 million kWh the jail complex uses each year.
Alvin Berger, president of the architect and engineering firm MKC Associates Inc. of Mansfield, told the commissioners the new solar power system would be a win-win for the county.
“It shouldn’t cost you anymore than what you’re currently paying at the jail,” Berger said.
He said the project would be funded by NexGen using federal dollars in the form of current tax credits, grants, and solar energy credits.
With 10 percent of the power being provided by the solar equipment, and traditional utility rates climbing all the time, the solar power would save the county utility dollars over time, and as soon as the new system could be installed.