Ascension Parish government has a lot of roofs. Could solar panels save taxpayers money? | Environment

Ascension Parish government is considering putting solar panels on the many roofs it owns in hopes of saving taxpayers money on electricity. 

A parish councilman says the initiative got its spark after he read news stories about big-box stores that have tried to capitalize on their extensive rooftop square-footage to install solar panels.  

“There’s going to be money for that sort of thing. What I’d like is to start the discussion to see if it’s something the parish could benefit from. We may be able to get grants and funding to put solar panels to reduce our energy costs,” Councilman Aaron Lawler said.

There’s plenty of federal money to apply for right now. Signed into law last November, President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has set aside a $550 million block grant program for renewable energy and energy efficiency for state and local governments. The Build Back Better pla, which stalled in Congress, had more direct credits for solar power.  

An analysis made public in January found big-box stores and shopping malls could generate half of their power needs with the full application of rooftop solar panels. They could generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 8 million homes and cut 52 million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually, according to Environment America, a collection of state-based environmental advocacy groups.

In the name of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, Walmart and Target have both committed to relying fully on renewable power for their operations by the 2030s. They have been installing rooftop and other solar panels at their stores over the past several years to help reach those goals.

By March,…

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