11 Days until Earth Day.
Driven by the County Commission's Guiding Vision, everyday is Earth Day in Alachua County. In April, each day leading up to Earth Day (April 22), the County will be highlighting programs, services, and strategies designed to lead Alachua County into a more sustainable future.
To view all "Earth Day Countdown" press releases on the County's Facebook page, click here and click on the Earth Day tab at the top of the page.
ALACHUA COUNTY, FL - In an effort to reduce and buffer rising energy costs, Alachua County is deploying locally available energy alternatives. The County has committed resources to both solar and liquid fuel alternatives.
Speaking about this energy commitment, Alachua County Sustainability Program Manager Sean McLendon said, "Energy costs are expected to rise over the next ten years due to peaking supplies and increasing global competition." He continued, saying, "Solar energy is a native and abundant resource in Alachua County."
Recognizing the need for clean and emission free energy resources, over 36kW of solar panels (in two arrays), enough to power 9-12 average homes, have been installed by Alachua County as of 2009. These two solar arrays, 11kW at the Environmental Protection Department Hazardous Waste Collection Center (click here to visit the website) and 25kW at the Public Works Leveda Brown Environmental Park (click here to visit the website) have produced 15,277 kWh of energy, $4,900 in revenue 2010 alone.
Energy and revenue generated offset costs for County buildings. As an added benefit, since 2009, 55 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions were avoided by the use of the panels.
These systems were part of the first round of Feed in Tariff (FIT) funding from Gainesville Regional Utilities. As a first of its kind program in the United States, GRU purchases all the power from the solar panels through the FIT agreement at $.032/kWh over 20 years.
Live data on the Environmental Protection (click here to visit the website) and Public Works (click here to visit the website) solar sites may be found online.
In addition to solar energy, Alachua County is also pursuing biodiesel production. During the next quarter, the Environmental Protection Department plans to establish a biodiesel fuel production capability at the Hazardous Waste Collection Center. Biodiesel will be produced from waste vegetable oil collected from the public at the Center.
Pure biodiesel will then be blended with petroleum diesel fuel for use in Alachua County's truck and off-road equipment fleet. This will decrease the use of petroleum derived fuel, reduce the carbon footprint and improve the sustainability of Alachua County operations.
For more information, contact Alachua County Sustainability Program Manager, Sean McLendon at 352-548-3765.
40 Days of Change - For more information concerning events on and leading up to Earth Day, go to the University of Florida, Office of Sustainability's "40 Days of Change" website by clicking here.