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McHenry Public Library set to install solar panels

Published: Saturday, March 8, 2014 10:46 p.m. CDT

McHENRY – The McHenry Public Library plans on installing solar panels this spring, its executive director said.

The move would make it the first library and the second public building in the area to do so, Executive Director Jim Scholtz said.

The project is estimated to cost about $50,000 total, with $20,000 spent on solar panels, and is being handled by Aerotecture International Incorporated of Park Forest.

The library has applied for several state and federal grants to offset the cost, but even without the grants, Scholtz expects the project to pay for itself in five to seven years, depending on energy prices.

“I think it’s important because we could be paying zero to a dollar in energy costs,” Scholtz said. “We could substantially lower our energy costs, and I think it’s something everyone should be thinking about.”

The board had considered making some “green” updates during the last round of improvements but ultimately decided to do them piecemeal, Scholtz said, adding that the cost of solar panels has dropped substantially, which is why he wanted to do the project now.

The installation is being done in conjunction with a roof replacement.

Because the building dates to the early 1970s, the library’s structural engineer isn’t sure if the roof can handle the weight of the panels, but if that avenue doesn’t work, the library is also considering installing them on the side of the building or on a specially constructed awning, Scholtz said.

“We want to make these as effective as possible,” he said.

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