September 8,  2010

Council takes aim at 'green'
movement's poster child

Some County Councilmen questioned whether installing solar-energy panels on the roofs of the Government Center and Hockessin Library is really a good thing. After Barry Nahe, chief of building operations for the Department of Special Services, told a Council committee on Sept. 7 that doing so "will make it look like the county is doing something," several members pressed for a cost-benefit appraisal. "Are we installing [them] just because they're warm, fuzzy, popular and green?" Council president Paul Clark asked. The project will cost about $700,000 in federal stimulus money and Nahe acknowledged that it will take more than 10 years before energy savings will recoup the investment.

It was uncertain what, if any, effect the discussion would have since solar panels are just one element of an extensive already-approved energy program Ameresco is implementing for county government. And John Cartier said that benefits from 'going green' extend well beyond cost savings to include such things as reducing respiratory ills that stem from burning coal to generate electricity. William Tansey, however, compared that to plans to reopen the Delaware City oil refinery to restore jobs. Jea Street called for reviewing the entire program "before they spend another dollar." When Nahe said the panels to be used are made in Mexico, William Powers said that amounts to U.S. taxpayers "stimulating Mexico" and a disgusted George Smiley walked out of the meeting.

Get more information about this topic

Access the Ameresco webpage detailing the New Castle County program.

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