ST. PAUL (WCCO) — St. Paul lawmakers unveiled an array of solar panels Monday that will help the RiverCentre’s parking ramp go greener when combined with its new, energy-efficient lights and electric car charging stations.
The solar panels are installed on the south side of the RiverCentre’s parking ramp and will generate 82 kilowats – enough energy to power nine or 10 average-size homes. Augmented by the new energy-efficient lights recently installed in the RiverCentre, the solar panels will produce about 15 percent of the ramp’s power needs. For the record: the ramp’s lights are always on for security reasons.
The solar panels cost roughly $600,000, and the federal government paid 90 percent of the bill as part of the Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The panels are made in Michigan and have a 25-year warranty.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said the eco-friendly investment in the ramp will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, cut energy costs and create jobs.
The RiverCentre ramp also has two electric car charging stations that allow electric cars to use their fast-charge mode.
Anne Hunt, of the City of St. Paul, said that people who use the ramp report feeling safer in it due to the way the new lights brighten it up.
“The light is much more evenly dispersed throughout the ramp,” she said. “There are not any shady, dark spots in the ramp.”
All the improvements to the RiverCentre ramp (the lighting, solar panels, and electric car charging stations) cost about $750,000. Taxpayers contributed about $10,000 to that total.