VI News Staff 2 years ago
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Feds Replacing and Upgrading Solar Systems on District Court Buildings

Four years ago, Hurricanes Irma and Maria made short work of solar panels on the U.S. Virgin Islands’ District Court buildings and properties. Now, in step with the Biden administration’s dual push for renewable energy and for projects mitigating the effects of climate change, they are being replaced with upgraded systems. Work is already well underway on the Ron de Lugo Federal Building in Charlotte Amalie, which houses the District Court on St. Thomas. On St. Croix, work recently started on the site of the Almeric L. Christian Building and District Court. Both projects are slated to be completed by April. The U.S. Government Services Administration has contracted the company that set up the original systems, Schneider Electric, for remedial work. The company is doing similar repair and mitigation work for the federal government in Puerto Rico.

Alison Rucker, Schneider Electric’s performance contracting manager, said the company assesses energy needs and consumption in buildings and advises owners accordingly.

“We look for cost-saving opportunities,” such as replacing old lighting with more energy-efficient systems and implementing renewable energy systems like photovoltaic, or solar cell, systems, she said. With long-term projects, the initial cost – advanced by a third party – is offset over time by energy cost savings made each year.

“We guarantee they’ll save” money annually.

Sarah Horowitz, account director for Schneider, put the annual cost savings for St. Thomas at $229,000 and for St. Croix, $325,000.

The original photovoltaic systems were installed in 2013 on St. Croix, on property adjacent to the court building, and on St. Thomas on the roof of the court building and in a portion of the parking lot.

The systems had been operating for several years, supplying most of the electricity needed by the courts, when two Category 5 hurricanes hit the Virgin Islands over a two-week period in September 2017.

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