Kansas City District Embraces Sustainability and Energy Efficiency Initiatives > Kansas City District > Kansas City District News

Kansas City District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed several solar field projects that greatly contribute to the Wilson Lake Project’s sustainability and energy efficiency initiatives that help protect, maintain, and enhance the natural environment and artificial made over the last two years.

The district strives to emulate USACE’s National Sustainability Plan, which serves as a roadmap for mitigating climate change, reducing waste, reducing costs, and improving the resilience of our infrastructure and operations. Areas of focus include facility energy efficiency; renewable energy; water efficiency; transport/fleet management (with the aim of increasing the number of electric vehicles); sustainable procurement/sourcing; and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in support of reducing the impacts of climate change.

The Wilson Lake project is located in a remote area of ​​Kansas, in Russell and Lincoln counties, surrounded by a large area of ​​agricultural land, creating many competing interests for power resources. Increased energy demand during the peak summer months drives up the cost of every kilowatt hour used by all energy users, including USACE parks.

High energy costs prompted the project team to research other energy options and alternatives that would help mitigate the project’s rising operating costs. The team worked with the Northwest Division and created the Division’s first solar photovoltaic – or PV – pilot project.

“The overall message to the division was that despite our overwhelming increase in the popularity of campgrounds, we simply could not afford to meet the growing public demand for electric service at these costs. A key contributing factor is a national trend with RVs getting bigger year over year with multiple indoor and outdoor air conditioners, heaters and kitchens,” said Wilson Lake Park Manager Nolan Fisher.

Photovoltaic solar projects, also known as solar panels, consist of a large collection of photovoltaic solar panels that absorb energy from a reliable clean energy source, in this case the sun, and convert it into electricity that is then sent to the electricity grid for distribution and consumption.

“The projects at Wilson Lake have been built using standard or traditional ground supports that use pilings to support a shelving table that supports the solar panels on rails. Other methods are sometimes used to anchor in the ground depending on various ground conditions. Standard ground mounting systems generally hold the solar array in a fixed position, although seasonal or daily adjustment options are growing in popularity. The standard ground mounting system is the simplest and most cost effective solution for ground installation and also the most common,” said Mark Horst, owner and director of commercial projects at King Solar,

The Wilson Lake solar panel projects use an electricity billing instrument called net metering, also known as net energy metering, which allows those who generate solar energy to return energy surplus to the utility company for full retail credit, instead of having to consume all the energy. when generated. Not all utility companies offer net metering, but its availability allows the project site to efficiently store energy with the utility for later use.

A device known as an inverter is used with solar panels to convert generated energy (direct current) into usable electricity for a home (alternating current). Several different styles of inverters, including string inverters, micro inverters, and optimized inverters, can be used. Each model has costs and benefits such as granular monitoring, shade tolerance, and rapid shutdown, which is a safety requirement on roofing projects.

“The bottom line is that the solar photovoltaic project is an investment in our continued advocacy for public recreation. The production of solar panels offsets our electricity costs by 20% per year. Electricity costs were approaching 40% of our budget This energy efficiency initiative has proven to be a huge success and continues to offset the high energy costs here at the project,” says Fisher.

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