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.

Comments (12)
  1. judge says:

    more wasted money.

  2. Matt says:

    Great journalism calling out how much tax money was wasted in this little adventure and what the projected breakeven point is. In fairness, break even won’t happen so it’s pretty hard to put the math together.

  3. Bob Moffitt says:

    Any tax money invested in cleaner vehicles and renewable energy is money well-spent, IMHO.

  4. dan says:

    What a joke! The solar panels will help light the ramp? So how much did these cost and how long will it take to break even. I guess it doenst matter as its just Govt money.

  5. Bob Moffitt says:

    Just came back from the event. Watch for it on the news tonight. Here’s a factoid for you: in addition to the panels and the recharging stations, the ramp replaced 90,000 lights with more efficient lights that are actually brighter than the old ones, but use only half as much electricity.

    There were three brand new Chevy Volts plugged in on the top level, taking advantage of the charging stations.

    BTW, all the solar panels used were made in the good ol’ US of A.

    1. Bob Moffitt says:

      Correction: I meant 900 lights, not 99,000. (g)

  6. tulostatuloo says:

    If all the electricity that this 82 kW solar PV system will produce here in Minnesota would be used to charge electric cars they could be driven about 290 000 miles annually with this power alone. That would reduces the air pollution that we are all breathing in and our dependency on foreign oil.

  7. Rat says:

    Plenty of fun facts pulled from the press kit. Fact is, the cars are too expensive for most of the 99 percent and subsidized with tax credits from Washington. Money for the project from the Recovery and Reinvestment Act. We are a decadent society, spending we don’t have like water.

    1. Bob Moffitt says:

      One man’s spending is another’s wise investment, my friend. (g)

  8. drts says:

    You can’t make this stuff up.

  9. JMay says:

    The taxpayers didn’t pay $10,000 of the cost. The taxpayers paid every cent of it.

    Innumerate Dolt.

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