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Published: Thursday, 7/14/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

TARTA to construct solar array at its offices

$1M federal grant aims to boost energy efficiency

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Rep. Marcy Kaptur Rep. Marcy Kaptur
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The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority has received a $1 million grant to build a solar-panel array at its Central Avenue headquarters and replace the facility's lights with modern, energy-efficient equipment.

"Toledo is increasingly recognized as the solar capital of the Midwest, so this award is particularly fitting," said U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), who announced the Federal Transit Administration grant. "It will not only help TARTA harness the power of the sun, but also lower its operating costs and reduce its carbon footprint."

James Gee, the transit authority's general manager, said the grant was not unexpected, as the funds had been included in a transportation appropriations bill passed last year, but the transit administration's action makes the grant "active" and TARTA can proceed with the projects.

The solar array on the roof at TARTA's 1127 West Central offices and bus garage will be collaboratively designed by the transit agency and the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo, he and Miss Kaptur said.

Mr. Gee said he's not yet sure when the solar project will be built, since it needs to be designed and engineered first.

The grant also will pay for replacing lights inside and outside of the TARTA headquarters.

Exactly how much the transit authority will save from its $150,670 current annual electric bill at headquarters hasn't been calculated, Mr. Gee said, but the bus garage's lights are about 20 years old.

"We're looking to reduce our ongoing operating costs," the transit manager said.

The solar grant announcement follows the issuance last week of a $3.49 million transit administration grant for 43 minibuses, 38 of which will be for the transit authority's Toledo Area Regional Paratransit Service.

The other five will be assigned primarily to suburban Call-A-Ride routes.

The replacement vehicles are expected to reduce TARTA's operating costs both by being more fuel-efficient and by requiring less maintenance than the buses they replace, some of which are more than 20 years old.

Solar equipment also is to be installed on the roof of the TARPS headquarters building under construction at Morris and Williams streets to generate electricity and heat water.

Contract David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 719-724-6094.



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