Solar for Oregon’s prisons

A quota on using solar for new state construction means that prisons will have more solar power, but projects are slow going.

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Solar power projects in prisons could be numerous, but are slow going due to complications building in the prison environment.

Contractors must be escorted in high-security areas, but a lack of staff has stalled this, and thus new solar development.

Since the corrections department installed a 16.5-kilowatt pilot solar array at its Two Rivers Correctional Institution in Umatilla earlier this year, [Vern Rowan, facilities services business manager for the Department of Corrections] says he has received several inquires from solar service providers wanting to install more projects. If the corrections department provides the land, it can take advantage of energy savings for the life of the solar array, which generally last 20 to 30 years.

The Two Rivers solar system is located outside the prison’s gates. Once projects move indoors, things can get really complex. A Request for Proposals currently out for a company to design a solar hot water heating system at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution in Pendleton will require contractors to work on the prison’s strict schedule. Prisons have to perform periodic inmate head counts throughout the day which brings any construction projects to a standstill.

Read more at the Daily Journal of Commerce.

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