Solar power in Chatsworth

Solar panels covering a five-acre area are pictured off Judson Vick Drive, near Chatsworth Water Works and the Judson Vick water treatment plant. The panels are capable of generating up to 1 megawatt hour of electricity a day, enough to run the utility’s main office as well as the nearby water treatment plant.

Water, wastewater and now solar power.

Chatsworth Water Works held the ribbon cutting Tuesday for a new five-acre array of solar panels off Judson Vick Drive, near its main office and the Judson Vick water treatment plant.

“We were looking to become more efficient, to serve our customers better. And this field was pretty much perfect for solar,” said Steve Smith, general manager of Chatsworth Water Works.

The array is capable of generating up to 1 megawatt hour of electricity a day, enough to run the utility’s main office as well as the nearby water treatment plant. Smith said that the money saved by not having to buy electricity will total some $2.2 million over the 25-year life of the panels.

In fact, the array generates more electricity than the utility needs and the surplus is sold to Georgia Power. Patricia Nardone, Georgia Power energy services manager, says the array, which has been operating for about three months, typically sells enough each day to run a small business.

Smith projects that over the 25-year life of the panels the utility will earn about $1.9 million from selling excess electricity.

The project cost $2.2 million, which was financed by a loan from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority.

Chatsworth Mayor Dan Penland says he believes the money saved from not having to buy as much electricity as well as the revenue earned from selling surplus electricity should benefit the city’s residents by helping to keep water and wastewater rates down.

“I’m really excited by this,” he said.

Murray County Sole Commissioner Brittany Pittman said she is working on a similar solar project. She says large-scale solar projects not only benefit residents but help the county attract new business.

“Many companies today are seeking to be more green, to be more environmentally friendly themselves and projects like this make a place more attractive to them,” she said.

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