Anne Arundel

Solar panels at landfill will cut power costs at Howard school

Solar panels under construction at a long-capped landfill in Howard County will soon be used to offset energy costs at a nearby elementary school.

The county began installation of the solar arrays this week at the former New Cut Landfill, an 83-acre tract in Ellicott City that shut down operations more than 30 years ago. Officials expect the $462,000 project will be completed in about eight weeks and the panels will begin drawing energy from the sun.

Once the panels are up and running, officials said they expect electrical energy costs at Worthington Elementary School, built in 1976 on Round Hill Road, to drop by as much as 90 percent.

Grant money for the work came from the Maryland Energy Administration's Project Sunburst, which has paid for the installation of renewable energy systems on more than 30 public buildings throughout Maryland.

Howard was one of 17 governments to receive funding last year under the program. The county already uses solar panels at the East Columbia Branch Library, the George Howard Building and the Robinson Nature Center, which opened earlier this month.

"Just as homeowners across Maryland look for ways to cut costs and save energy, we are doing the same by harnessing available and renewable energy resources to save taxpayers money by reducing utility costs in government facilities," County Executive Ken Ulman said in a statement.

The panels, installed in lines that stretch across three acres at the closed landfill, will be located six feet above the grass-covered ground and will be tilted at 30-degree angles to track the sun. Estimates of long term cost savings associated with the project will be available soon after the panels begin operating, officials said,