Woonsocket Considering Solar Panel Carports at Municipal Parking Lots

The carports would shade cars from direct sunlight, while using that sunlight to generate renewable electricity, cutting cut down on the city’s energy costs.

By: Tim Studebaker

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WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WLNE) – Some city-owned parking lots in Woonsocket could soon look a little different.  The city wants to take advantage of some of the open pavement it owns to produce renewable energy.

Woonsocket Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt says, “We’re looking to move forward with as much green development as we can to generate as much savings for the taxpayers as we can.”

They’re thinking about installing canopies, or carports, with solar panels on top.  It’s technology that’s been in place since 2016 at a school just up the road in Mendon, Massachusetts.  Officials there say the panels have contributed to a 30% drop in electricity costs.

Baldelli-Hunt says, “It’s financial, it’s environmental, and I think it’s important that municipalities look to see the power of the sun.  It’s amazing what it can do and how it can benefit.”

The new carports would shade cars while using sunlight to produce electricity. Woonsocket could use that electricity to power municipal buildings and properties.  The Woonsocket public works director says before any carports are built, each parking lot would need to be fixed up.

Woonsocket Director of Public Works Steven D’Agostino says, “Once the solar array is erected, it’s very difficult to pave around it or beneath it or whatever.  So, it just makes sense to refurbish first.”

He also says the new canopies could extend the life of a new parking lot by protecting it from the damaging rays of the sun.

All in all, the mayor says they won’t move forward unless the project is expected to be cost effective.

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2020

Categories: News, Rhode Island, Woonsocket