Sunny Side: Solar panels installed at Mary Alice Warren Community Center paying off big in a couple of ways for Lewisville
Published 12:10 am Thursday, July 6, 2023
How can you help the environment and save money at the same time?
The town of Lewisville found the ideal solution for the relatively new Mary Alice Warren Community Center by installing a 51kW solar energy array.
Consider that the 108 solar panels installed on the roof of the 12,000-square-foot facility, which opened in November 2021, will provide about 96 percent of the building’s energy usage while offsetting some 1.4 million pounds of carbon emissions over the next 30 years.
In addition, the $121,821 cost to Lewisville for the renewable energy project will be offset by about $70,000 in federal tax credits and rebates from Duke Energy, which computes to a savings of $225,000 in electricity bills for the town over the next three decades.
Town Manager James Ayers said that sustainability executed in the right way could have multiple advantages.
“From a financial perspective, the system is projected to have a 17 percent return on investment, and it will pay for itself in eight years, leaving 22 years of essentially free energy to serve our community center and reduce the cost of utilities in our annual operating budget,” Ayers said. “Sustainability done right can benefit both the environment and the taxpayers at the same time.”
The project was actually approved by the Lewisville Town Council on Oct. 13, 2022, and the solar panels were officially put into use on March 23.
Stacy Tolbert, assistant town manager and planning director, said that the town’s Comprehensive Plan was created with the help of residents and stakeholders throughout the community with these kinds of projects in mind.
“The Comp Plan recommended the creation of strategies to promote sustainability and adaptability, including the town promoting the use of solar energy or continuing to host special recycling events,” Tolbert said. “The solar installation at the community center fulfills this recommendation, and it provides an example for others to consider as they plan new buildings or renovations here in the Town of Lewisville.”
Renewable Energy Design Group of Lewisville, which started its business in 2012, designed and installed the system.
“They definitely had that in mind when they started this project and wanted to have some things in place to be able to do that,” owner and founder Jeff Redwine said of the solar energy array. “They were able to get the Duke rebate last year, which is no longer available, as well as the incentives from the government. It has been a great project, and we take a lot of pride in putting that in our hometown.”
As one of the leading solar installers in the Carolinas, Redwine said that his firm specializes in turnkey design and installation services for its residential and commercial solar operations.
Mayor Mike Horn pulled out his phone after a recent meeting and showed solar numbers in real time on his phone and looks forward to the town doing more in this area.
“The town council has adopted some very aggressive sustainability goals for 2030 and 2050,” Horn said. “The solar energy system at the community center and EV charging stations to be installed at Shallowford Square this summer are just the first of our efforts to reduce Lewisville’s carbon footprint.”
If you want to see the solar dashboard in real-time, just go to www.lewisvillenc.net/solar and click on the solar panel monitoring site link. The dashboard displays a wide range of data elements, from energy production to weather to environmental benefits.