Lee's Summit Journal

Public buildings in Lee’s Summit to get a solar boost

The solar panels installed at the Lee’s Summit Animal shelter have generated over 100% more power than originally expected.
The solar panels installed at the Lee’s Summit Animal shelter have generated over 100% more power than originally expected.

Futuristic looking parking shades will be popping up at several Lee’s Summit fire stations.

The shades will provide cover for fire personnel’s own vehicles, but they’ll do a lot more than give a little relief from the sun, wind and rain. The parking shades are actually solar panels — designed to harness natural energy and provide relief to the city’s electric bill.

The parking shades and other solar panels planned for installation at 15 city-owned facilities are part of an initiative to lower the city’s overall carbon footprint at a variety of buildings. Construction on the panels begins in December and should be completely installed by April.

Project Manager Dawn Bell says the solar arrays are estimated to save the city at least $1.7 million over 20 years. They will also reduce 106,250 tons of CO2 from the city’s carbon footprint. That translates to the equivalent of planting nearly 2.5 million trees, recycling 325,000 tons of waste, or reducing driving miles by 212 million.

“I think every city is looking to go green,” Bell said. “I think it’s going to be a big benefit.”

The solar installation is an expansion of an installation in 2018 of solar panels at the Lee’s Summit City animal shelter. That project, first conceived by a local high school student, has been very successful. The panels produced over 100% more power than anticipated in the first year of operation.

“It has well exceeded our expectation,” Bell said.

Lee’s Summit Solar, LLC in partnership with MC Powers Companies will install, own and operate the panels. The company also takes care of any needed maintenance and repairs.

The City will pay the solar company a monthly fee for the service and incurs no up-front costs. In exchange, Lee’s Summit will be able to offset electricity usage at each facility where the panels are installed. By installing the solar arrays at this time, the city is also able to take advantage of some rebates offered by Evergy (formerly KCP&L).

Some of the solar panels will be easily visible, like those on the ground near the animal shelter. Others will be roof mounted. At some of the fire stations, the parking canopy option can serve a dual purpose.

“The fire personnel didn’t have a place to park their vehicles under cover,” Bell said, adding that the canopies will allow them shelter during storms.

The canopy solar arrays are scheduled to go into Lee’s Summit fire stations 2, 6 and 7. Bell said they are also hoping to work out an installation at station 3, which is currently under construction. Fire station 1 is getting solar panels, but they will be roof mounted.

Other locations for the solar array installations include: Scruggs Road Lift Station, Bowlin Road Pump Station, South Terminal Pump Station, Legacy Wood Lift Station, Legacy Wood Lift Station, Legacy Wood Lift Station, City Hall, City Maintenance Facility, Harris Park Community Center, Legacy Park Community Center and Longview Community Center.