The City of Valparaiso is always hard at work creating a quality living space for its residents. Most recently, this has included a series of projects aimed at improving the environment throughout the area. From saving energy to educational programs and much more, Valpo is taking great strides to make its environment better for all.
One such project includes the recent addition of solar panels throughout the City. In total, Valpo has added 772 solar panels across five city facilities. This includes three of the City’s treatment plants, the City Services building on Joliet Road, and at City Hall on Lincolnway. The $800,000 project is expected to create clean energy while saving taxpayers more than $5.2 million, or $185,000 annually, in electrical costs, excluding savings on any extra energy produced. The money saved from this project is expected to pay for itself in a total of six short years.
“Utilities have long been some of the City of Valparaiso’s largest expenses, so we’re very pleased to find ways of offsetting these costs and providing renewable energy,” said Valparaiso Mayor Matt Murphy in a press release. “We also appreciate that our City Hall may be more than 100 years old, but it will be powered with the latest in solar technology.”
Murphy also noted these panels are unable to be seen from the street, so its historical charm has remained unaffected by these upgrades.
The City had been looking at these additions since 2018 but chose to implement them now as it was the most cost-effective option. As a big power user, the City is always looking into ways to best improve the area in ways that make the most financial sense.
“The City has a successful history of environmental stewardship and energy efficiency. We have had our sights on solar for years. Now that wattage for solar panels has increased over time and prices have stabilized, solar makes financial and environmental sense for the City,” Executive Director for Valparaiso City Services Steve Poulos said in a press release.
These changes, as a result, have been a major component in helping Valpo reach its efficiency goals.
“Over the past 10 years, the City has been investing in energy-efficient equipment and systems so that we could hold our electrical use steady while adding significant services for a growing customer base,” said Poulos. “While Valparaiso City Utilities has continued to pay more per kilowatt hour and expand services to more residents and businesses, our electrical cost per gallon of use has remained fairly stable due to our ongoing efforts in energy efficiency. The introduction of solar will further advance these energy efficiency goals.”
The City has also launched its recycling education program as a means to increase the recycling rate and reduce the amount in local landfills, as well as wishcycling.
“Wishcycling is when we drop something that cannot be recycled into the mixed recycling bin hoping or wishing it’s recyclable. Unfortunately, any concentration of these wishcycled items means that your whole bin or even a whole truckload is rejected and diverted to the landfill,” said Poulos.
The program is aimed at educating residents on all things recycling through an online campaign, which includes a series of social media posts as well as a specialized website containing more information and other digital methods to help get the word out about the best way residents should go about recycling.
While the City is in a decent place as a whole currently when it comes to recycling, Poulos noted he hopes this program helps to make the rate even higher.
“At 22%, Valpo’s recycling rate is better than the Indiana average, but we’d like to do even better,” he said.
Additionally, the City is in the midst of designing upgrades to water and wastewater facilities by enhancing equipment, meeting regulatory requirements, and accommodating growth in a responsible manner.
Poulos noted he is proud to see these projects underway, as a city with strong utilities can equally create a stronger quality of life for all within the City.
For more information on how the City of Valparaiso continues to invest in its environment to create a better space for its residents, visit its website here.