Last week, the Lafayette Plaza Public Library, part of the Washington County Public Library system, celebrated the additions of a new solar panel array, an Electric Vehicle (EV) charging station, and a phone charging station. The solar array was installed by Appalachian Renewable Power Systems on roofs of the Library and the Bookmobile Garage, and designed and owned by Pickering Energy Solutions.

“The system is a 14.1 kW (kilowatt) DC system with 47 SolarWorld 300 watt solar panels,” said Dr. Charles “Chip” Pickering, Owner of Pickering Energy Solutions. “This will provide about 50% of the energy used by the facility in an average year, and should save the Library about $180.00 per year in energy costs.”The system is a little larger than the system that would be required to power an average US home, Pickering said. “Because 94% of the electricity in our area is produced by burning coal, which releases CO2 and other pollutants, this solar power system will save the release of 14.7 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, which is the equivalent to the annual output of 2.9 average American cars. It would take 12 acres of trees to absorb the amount of CO2 that will be avoided by this project.”

Additionally, Pickering Energy Solutions donated an EV charging station for the Library, which was installed at no charge by Appalachian Renewable Power out of Athens, Ohio. “Electric vehicles, when charged on renewable energy sources, have the opportunity to operate a much lower environmental impact,” said Pickering. “Having electric vehicle charging stations allow the new electric vehicle technology to move forward and gain more local acceptance.”The charging station, mounted on the backside of the Bookmobile Garage, is in close proximity to dining and shopping options available at the Lafayette Plaza Shopping Center. EV drivers will also have access to restrooms, free Wi-Fi, and other services offered by the Lafayette Plaza Public Library during business hours, while they charge their vehicle at no cost. Inside the Library, a new free charging station allows patrons to charge their phones and smart devices while they browse or use the computer lab.

“The mission of the Washington County Public Library is to encourage lifelong learning by providing access to information, literary resources, and technology to the people of Washington County,” said Justin Mayo, Director for the Washington County Public Library. “By adopting new technologies, such as a solar power system or an EV charging station, we hope to make these technologies more accessible to the community we serve.”