October 9, 2019

THERESA JAVA/Free Press
The sewer district installed 105 solar panels over its chlorine contact basin in August.

THERESA JAVA/Free Press The sewer district installed 105 solar panels over its chlorine contact basin in August.

KEY LARGO — The final 105 solar panels have been brought online at the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District main plant, completing the district’s initial solar effort and generating about the same energy needed to power nearly 17 homes.

“These panels being brought online complete the district’s Phase 1 solar project,” District Manager Peter Rosasco said. “An average single family home uses approximately 914 kilowatt-hours per month, so this initial Phase 1 solar project provides enough power to run 16.8 single family homes.”

The solar array project for the district consists of 344 solar panels, including the 239 installed on the rooftop of the operations building in February and the 105 panels installed over the chlorine contact basin in August.

The 105 solar panels were initially conceived in 2018 to provide shade to mitigate chlorine evaporation while providing power, but after the state Department of Environmental Protection awarded the sewer district $3,333,333 in Stewardship funds for capital improvement projects, the project grew.

“I’ve already seen a reduction in chemical use, and it’s only been a month,” plant operations manager Jered Primicerio said. “The shade definitely helps the chlorine from evaporating. It’s definitely slowing the process since it’s not directly in the sun.”

The total cumulative power output so far for 2019 is 99,447 kilowatt-hours and 77.9 tons of carbon dioxide emissions avoided.

The Phase 1 solar project is estimated to save the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District about $40,000 in annual energy costs. The district projects $2.5 million in combined energy and chemical savings over the next 40 years, which is known as panel performance expectancy.

The project in its entirety has been funded by approximately $366,600 from the Stewardship grant at no cost to ratepayers.

To view the performance data for the Phase 1 solar arrays, visit monitor.us.sunpower.com and log in as solar@klwtd.com using the password Sunpower123.

The district is currently working on a Phase 2 solar project and may soon be seeking request for bids. The second phase, upon board approval, will feature solar arrays on two more rooftop structures at the main plant and along the dry retention field.

The Phase 2 project may also include a rooftop solar array system at the district’s administration building at 103355 Overseas Highway and is initially projected to produce approximately 10 times the power of the Phase1 project, according to a district press release.

For more information about the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District solar array project or any other of its recently finished capital improvement projects, visit klwtd.com.

tjava@keysnews.com