- Associated Press - Friday, January 6, 2017

KENAI, Alaska (AP) - The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge can finally determine how much power is generating from a pair of solar panels installed for the opening of the new visitor center in 2015.

Refuge staff says the solar system’s digital metering had been kept inactive until the federally-operated refuge could fulfill certain security requirements. Mechanic Don Hendrickson said the metering system is now up and running and he’s been able to track the solar panel activity since November, The Peninsula Clarion reported (https://bit.ly/2iNYgv6).

He said the panels put out about 4.3 kilowatts each day and are expected to generate 20 kilowatts in the summertime.

“It’s nice to know that getting only five hours of sun a day, we’re still getting energy from them,” Hendrickson said.

The two 60-square meter solar arrays are expected to provide between 3 percent and 10 percent of the building’s power needs, according to a refuge information pamphlet. Ranger Leah Eskelin said that percentage would likely increase as the refuge gathers more information on how much power the solar panels produce.

The new refuge headquarters building, which opened in May 2015, also has several other power-saving and clean energy technology features, including LED lights and a wood-burning soapstone fireplace to heat the lobby and gift shop. The building’s offices and exhibit space are heated with an efficient triple-pass water boiler.

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Information from: (Kenai, Alaska) Peninsula Clarion, https://www.peninsulaclarion.com

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