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Last week, we heard about how the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program is breaking ground in Miami-Dade. Now they're going to work in another Florida city, Tampa, where the sun’s rays are providing more than just suntans and colorful flower gardens for the residents of Hillsborough County.

On Friday, the county formally flipped the switch of an extensive array of solar panels mounted on the rooftop of the Old Main Courthouse Building in downtown Tampa. The project is the largest of its kind in an urban downtown area in the nation. 

The 196-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system of 1,350 specially made solar panels was funded through the EECBG program. The solar panels will supply approximately 40 percent of the building’s energy load and is estimated to save the county more than $60,500 annually in energy costs.

EcoTechnologies Inc., the Sarasota-based company that installed the panels, had to hire 12 more workers for the job and now that installation is complete, six of them will continue to work on other area projects.

County staff also unveiled a real-time touchscreen display in the courthouse lobby that will display the current energy output of the solar arrays for visitors.

Anyone with internet access can check out the same real-time information by accessing this link:

Hillsborough County received $7.6 million in EECBG funds to undertake the energy efficiency and conservation projects on its facilities and vehicles.  In addition to the courthouse project, there are two other solar projects, lighting retrofits and facility upgrades in the works.  

Andy Oare is a New Media Specialist with the Department of Energy