Toledo Museum goes off the grid with solar energy

Solar panels on the roof.
Solar panels on the roof.

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - The solar panels installed at the Toledo Museum of Art are really starting to pay off.

Twenty years ago, the museum began work on making their main building more energy efficient. Earlier this week, all of that work came to fruition as they were able to completely off the energy grid.

Their first solar panels were installed on the roof in 2008. Now, almost every square foot is covered, and more were installed in the parking lot last year.

The panels were operational through the winter, but with summer around the corner, the 4,000 solar panels are producing nearly half a megawatt of energy. On Tuesday, that energy production was more than enough to fit the museum's needs.

"We went off the grid," said CEO Brian Kennedy. "We weren't paying any money for energy. We were actually giving energy back."

Since the program began in 1993, the museum has lowered its energy costs by 80 percent. Besides heating and cooling, most of the museum's expense comes from the lights shining on each individual piece of art.

"We have the lights on in the gallery all day, even when the sun is shining," said Chief Operating Officer Carol Bintz.

The 2,200 traditional lights are changed out once every six months. The next phase of the energy-efficient project is changing out those lights with new, longer lasting and energy efficient LED lights.

The museum will still have to rely on drawing power from the energy grid most of the time, but being more self-sufficient and cost-effective will help them use the money saved for more community programs.

"Being able to mind our energy costs means we have money for lots of other things," Kennedy said. "So this is a great, great advantage."

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