County moves toward solar energy


Bridgeport building could be first pilot project

It seems a shame, with more than 300 days of sunshine, that Mono County buildings don’t take advantage of solar power more often, according to at least one county supervisor.

That supervisor, Larry Johnston, has been trying to change this over the past two years of his term, bringing solar energy to meetings again and again.

Finally, his efforts may pay off.

On Tuesday, a solar energy consultant (brought in by Johnston) told the county board of supervisors there was a way to provide solar energy to the county’s buildings—at no net cost to the county.

A 56-kilowatt project proposed for the county’s Annex 1 building in Bridgeport could provide consistent, inexpensive energy, said Bob Modisette, a solar energy consultant from Arizona.

The system cost will eventually be paid for by the reduction in the cost of the utilities,” he said, adding that would take about 10 years for a 56 kilowatt system.

Local labor and materials are part of the deal.

“We will concentrate on using local expertise,” Modisette said. “They know the geotechnical issues far better than anyone else.”

Even the county’s extreme snowloads (the amount of snow a roof or building can tolerate) and temperatures are not a serious obstacle, he said.

“We get almost as much snow as you do, and we know how to build to the specification.”

Three county supervisors already have solar panels on their homes; Fred Stump, Byng Hunt, and Johnston. Johnston also noted there are governmental block grants available for “seed money” for such projects.

The board asked staff to begin looking into the solar energy option and report back to them.