The Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant could soon significantly reduce its energy costs thanks to a newly completed array of solar panels at the Essex facility.
According to figures released by Baltimore City, the 4,200 panels —installed by Johnson Controls—will save the city $6 million over the life of the project. The city invested $4 million in the project, which was offset by a $900,000 grant from the Maryland Energy Administration.
The panels are expected to generate 1,000 kilowatts of electricity per hour and are expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 9,500 metric tons annually, according to a Baltimore City news release. According to the release, this is the “equivalent to planting 245,500 trees and removing nearly 1,800 passenger vehicles from the road.”
The Back River Wasterwater Treatment plant, which is more than 100 years old, sits on 466 acres and serves 1.3 million people who live in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. The plant operates constantly and treats up to 180 million gallons of wastewater every day, according to Baltimore City figures.
City and county officials showed off the new panels during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday.
“Starting today, when the sun shines its brightest, Baltimore is creating clean, renewable energy for a healthier environment,” said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in a statement. “The addition of solar energy to our ever-growing arsenal of energy-efficiency initiatives marks another step in the growth of a more sustainable Baltimore.”