Fox Chapel on Monday became one of the first municipalities in the state that will power its borough buildings with solar energy, officials said.
Council voted unanimously on the proposal, which begins with the installation of solar panels in the borough’s new public works buildings.
Project costs are expected to be $250,000.
They will be paid through a federal stimulus grant and other funding sources.
Council member Mandy Steele cited what she called sound investment and operational efficiency for spearheading the project.
“It also improves operational resilience but for me, it is the chance for this community to lead by example that is so compelling.
“Projects like this tend to create ripple effects across a region. I look forward to developing an educational element in the new array that will be available to the wider community.”
Fox Chapel is undergoing a potential $3.1 million project to build a new energy-efficient garage and renovate two existing buildings that sit behind the municipal building along Fox Chapel Road.
“When you build, the building deteriorates over time and doesn’t gain value,” Steele said.
“With solar, we have a payback period of 16 years and then everything after that is profit.”
Steele joined Manager Gary Koehler and Engineer Kevin Brett to explore the clean energy project.
Council received several letters of support from the community, officials said.
Council member Harrison Lauer said the project is a win-win.
“The addition of solar panels provides an opportunity for the borough to effectively gain some of its power needs through renewable energy,” he said. “The (potential) sale of electricity generated by the panels is projected to pay back the borough’s expenses and yield a profit.”
Steele said the project is a prime example of the impact that can be made by a municipality when it puts thought toward the environment.
“We’ve seen exciting moves coming out of Fox Chapel toward conservation, and they are all strong environmental moves and all incredibly good for the longevity of the community,” she said.
Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 724-226-7726, [email protected] or via Twitter .