"All energy will be consumed by operations of Egan Center," said Stephen Trimble, CEO of Arctic Solar Ventures, whose crew installed the panels on the rooftop of the Egan Center. "If there’s a day where there’s excess capacity then it would go back out into the utility grid [ML & P] as well." (Photo by Amy Mostafa, Alaska Public Media)
“All energy will be consumed by operations of Egan Center,” said Stephen Trimble, CEO of Arctic Solar Ventures, whose crew installed the panels on the rooftop of the Egan Center. “If there’s a day where there’s excess capacity then it would go back out into the utility grid [ML & P] as well.” (Photo by Amy Mostafa, Alaska Public Media)

The municipality of Anchorage unveiled its first — and the state’s largest — solar project on Wednesday, July 10 on the rooftop of the Egan Convention Center located downtown.

The project consists of 216 solar panels that are expected to power up to 9% of the center’s electricity needs for the year.

Among those present for the unveiling was Mayor Ethan Berkowitz.

He says this is an example of the city trying something new that could add clean energy jobs.

“This is a sign that we can develop new industry in Anchorage and across Alaska,” Berkowitz said, “we can do it in ways that are fiscally responsible and in ways that help satisfy our responsibility in terms of addressing climate change.”

The mayor added that the solar project — and similar ones — are expected to help extend the life of the gas fields that fuel most of Anchorage at this point.

The project cost about $200,000 from a pool of money set aside for capital improvements from the Convention Center Room Tax Fund.

It’s expected to save between $20,000 – $25,000 in today’s utility dollars per year, according to Stephen Trimble.

He’s the CEO of Arctic Solar Ventures, the company that installed the panels.

“Solar really does amazing things for reducing building operating costs so we think there’s a lot more application for this in the city,” Trimble said, commenting that relying on solar energy for 9% of its electricity needs is a relatively large amount for a building this size.

Trimble contracted a crew of 8 Alaskans to install the panels over a period of four nights. He says the industry is expanding.

“People just need to know that it works and they need to know that it works well,” Trimble said. “And they need to know what good solar looks like when it’s done right.”

The project is a follow-through on some of the city’s priorities from its Climate Action Plan adopted by the Anchorage Assembly in May.

The city next plans to install solar panels on Fire Station 10 and the Anchorage Regional Landfill building.

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