The Saline District Library will soon be adding to its solar array and offsetting even more of its energy use.
Library staff first flipped the switch on its current solar array on Jan. 12, 2016, just before current library director Mary Ellen Mulcrone came on board and about two years after the library board began discussing the matter.
The original array consists of 225 made-in-Michigan Suniva solar panels. Local company Sunventrix installed the array.
Mulcrone says the current output of the panels doesn't offset 100 percent of the library's energy usage but it is a step toward being greener.
"This is a community that does support energy conservation and that is very much supportive of recycling and such," Mulcrone said. She pointed out that the library received one of the first ever SalineBeGreen awards for its efforts, including recycling and a rain garden in addition to the solar panels.
When the library board made the decision to install the first array, they also planned for the possibility of adding to it in the future, Mulcrone says, making sure the infrastructure was upgraded for possible future expansion.
Sunventrix employees were at the library on Sept. 18 looking at the roof conditions and preparing for Phase 2, when 230 more panels will be added. Because of recent improvements in technology, each of the new panels is more efficient, so the library will be more than doubling the number of kilowatts produced.
Saline residents can track how much power the panels are producing from day to day through a “Solar Array” link on the bottom of the library’s main webpage that redirects to Enphase Enlighten website that monitors the Saline Library’s solar array output.
Mulcrone notes that, in addition to merely offering the number of kilowatt hours produced, the website also compares the number to day-to-day needs, such as the amount needed to charge a cell phone, power a refrigerator, or even light up the Eiffel Tower.
Mulcrone said that behind-the-scenes work on the new set of panels is still underway, with engineering approvals and city permits still in process. She said the library is hoping for the second set of panels to be installed toward the end of October.