The City’s first Renewable Energy Education Project to be illuminated using solar energy will soon grace the grounds of Cavalry Triangle, at 605 N. Santa Fe St. The project, a contemporary and colorful Aztec calendar pavilion, is expected to be completed by August 2012. It cost approximately $250,000 and was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The domed-shaped public art piece made is a combination of Corten steel, concrete, solar panels, light condensers, and crystal prisms.
This renewable energy education project is a shaded yet light-filled gathering and performance space with an elaborate detailed ceiling, paying homage to the original Aztec calendar and casting light play onto the ground below. The pavilion 110V AC power 4 outlets for public use, solar power and nighttime illumination.
Additionally, the pavilion includes the ability to feed unused solar energy back into the City’s power grid as well as a means for the public to view metrics on solar use and collection. Custom clad solar panels rim the outside of the ceiling, powering the 110V AC outlets and nighttime illumination. The custom coverings blend in with the overall installation aesthetic while housing standard dimension off the shelf solar panels. A digital readout at the main power box displays current and to-date usage statistics. Nearby are 2 educational signs describing the flow of energy through the pavilion and providing a brief overview of how solar power works.
The City of El Paso is tapping into solar energy to heat its swimming pools. Armijo, Hilos de Plata, Leo Cancellare, Marty Robbins, Memorial, Shawver, Veterans and Viscount all have solar-heated pools. These energy-efficient heating systems allow the city to use clean energy to heat the pools while reducing its utility costs. The project cost approximately $1.8 million and was funded through a Texas State Energy Conservation Office loan. Eventually, all of the City’s pools will be heated using solar energy. The current systems save the City approximately $350,000 per year.
A portion of the energy needs for the City’s Main Library will be met using solar energy. Plans are in the works to equip the library, at 501 N. Oregon St., with a solar energy system. The system will harness the sun’s energy to generate electricity for the library. The project is in the design phase. It will cost approximately $400,000 and is funded through federal stimulus funding.
The long-term parking lot at the El Paso International Airport is illuminated using solar power. The $330,000 project was completed in March 2010. It is projected to save the City about $40,000 a year in utility costs. Officials were able to complete the project at a cost of about 60 percent less than a standard lighting installation. The solar lighting project for the 2,200 space parking lot was funded through the Airport’s capital improvement budget.