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11/28/2017 12:55:00 PM
Solar panels will help reduce energy costs in Bloomington parks
Solar panels were being installed Monday at Winslow Sports Complex as part of a $15 million Bloomington initiative that will include nearly 30 locations. Staff photo by Jeremy Hogan
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Solar panels were being installed Monday at Winslow Sports Complex as part of a $15 million Bloomington initiative that will include nearly 30 locations. Staff photo by Jeremy Hogan

Lauren Bavis, Herald-Times

A sustainability effort will actually reduce the amount of green space in some Bloomington parks, although city officials say it shouldn’t interfere with park activities.

The city is in the process of installing solar panels at nearly 30 locations, a $15 million project that will increase the amount of energy derived from solar sources by 5 megawatts.

Ground-mounted solar panels, rather than typical rooftop-mounted panels, are being installed at some sites, including Bryan Park and the Winslow Sports Complex. “We’re not taking away high-usage, large green spaces,” said Paula McDevitt, administrator for the Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department. She said the city put the panels in small green spaces “where there isn’t activity.”

A state law that goes into effect Jan. 1 will limit financial incentives for those who install solar panels in the future, so the city is racing against the clock to complete installation at several sites before the new year.

“It’s a pretty massive undertaking,” said Alex Crowley, director of the city’s Economic and Sustainable Development Department. “There’s a lot of movement going on still.”

Since the city announced its intent to install additional solar panels last summer, the departments of public works and parks and recreation, as well as the utilities department, have been working with Energy Systems Group to identify the best locations for the panels.

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