By Guy Busby
FAIRHOPE – Part of the parking lot at Fairhope Town Hall will be covered with a canopy of solar panels in one of the first such programs in the state, utility officials said.
The Alabama Municipal Electric Authority will install a 24-kilowatt solar canopy in the northeast corner of the Section Street parking lot. The canopy will be at least 8 feet above the ground, allowing cars to park under the panels, AMEA’s Arthur Bishop said.
Bishop said AMEA is setting up solar farms in each of its member cities around Alabama. Most solar farms are located on properties far from city buildings. He said the Fairhope canopy in the town hall parking lot is different from other systems in the program.
“This will be the first solar canopy, so you will all be unique among all of our members,” Bishop told City Council members on Monday, July 12.
Council Chairman Jack Burrell said Fairhope officials and AMEA officials decided to put the signs in a more visible location.
“This is an opportunity for Fairhope to get the 50 kilowatt solar farm and I think AMEA has gone above and beyond in trying to meet our requirements,” Burrell said. “A lot of them are in open fields and they’re just rows of solar power and we didn’t really want that.”
The solar canopy will be built by AMEA, which will provide all materials, Bishop said. He said that in many cities, substation crews, linemen and other workers have volunteered to help learn about the solar panels and the power generation system.
AMEA will also maintain the canopy and insure it against damage from storms, conductors hitting the structure while parking or other causes, Bishop said.
“I go out once a year and go through all the maintenance to check everything, make sure there aren’t any issues,” he said. “Everything will be installed according to NEC (National Electric Code) standards. “
The Fairhope installation will include 72 panels covering eight parking spaces near the statue at the northeast corner of the Town Hall parking lot. The panels will be installed facing south. The lower end of the awning will be 8 feet above the ground, allowing cars to park under the panels. The top end of the canopy will be 25 feet high, Bishop said.
He said two parking spaces will be occupied by electrical transformers, but the other six will be available for parking.
The parking lot solar farm will produce approximately 36,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month.
Bishop said AMEA has set up a solar farm in Foley on a plot off the coast of Alabama 59. He said state farms are used to educate students and the public about electricity. solar.
“Everywhere else we have them on the ground with fences around them,” Bishop said. “We do tours and things like that with the kids, with the colleges. At Opelika, we did it with Auburn.
Bishop said AMEA still plans to install another 90 panels at other sites in Fairhope to provide the city with 50 kilowatts of solar power generation capacity.