The Summit County Public Health Department at Quinn's Junction has received a $217,000 grant from Rocky Mountain Power.

The money will be enough to cover the purchase solar panels capable of generating 40 kilowatts of energy, installation, five years of maintenance, staff training and an information kiosk in the center's reception area.

The panels are expected to decrease the center's monthly utility costs.

"It helps the planet and it also, in the long run, saves us money," Summit County Manager Bob Jasper said. "We're cutting our bills big time, and someone else is paying for the solar panels."

According to Summit County Energy Programs Coordinator Stephanie Dolmat-Connell, preliminary estimates indicate the county will save $5,000 to $10,000 a year in utility costs. "It's a pretty significant savings."

The grant money is funded through Rocky Mountain Power's Blue Sky program, which enables customers to donate fixed monthly amounts to support renewable energy.

Purchasing just one $1.95 block for 12 months, in addition to the monthly electricity bill, is equivalent to 1,518 miles not driven, 1,498 pounds less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and 18 trees planted, according to Rocky Mountain Power.

"Any reduction in electricity is a reduction in carbon," Dolmat-Connell said.

The Health Center was chosen by Summit County for the grant because of the correlation between health benefits and renewable energy, she added. "We all breathe in this air, and it's cleaner if we use renewable energy.


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The center was also chosen because it already incorporates environmentally friendly design elements, including geothermal energy; recycled materials; xeriscaping; and passive solar, which collects and distributes solar energy through windows, walls and floors.

"It's really great to work in a building that supports what we do," said Rich Bullough, Summit County Health Department Director. "One of the things we are trying to do is address any potential emerging issues with air quality, water quality and all the different environmental health factors. So we really feel that, philosophically, this building supports our mission."

The solar panels will be installed summer 2013.