The Washington Post

A jail goes green

Homeowners are installing solar panels to save on energy costs, so why not jails too? (Bloomberg)

I’ve been in many jails and prisons — as a reporter, not as a resident — and I can testify that advanced electronic components are in short supply, so I was surprised to see the following three words appear together in the same story: solar, power, jail.

The Frederick News-Post reports:

The Frederick County Adult Detention Center is going green as work has begun on the installation of a solar power array that officials hope will save the county money in the long run.

The roof-mounted system will be used to heat water for the jail, which Lt. Keith Welty, commander of fiscal services, said is one of the county’s largest users of hot water.

Correctional solar panels have popped up in other places recently, including California. The panels in Frederick will be paid for by a U.S. Dept of Energy block grant. The report continued to say:

Jails, along with hotels, dormitories, military barracks, health clubs and restaurants, are ideal facilities for solar water heating systems, said Roger Perry, Solar Energy Services founder and vice president, in the release.

“The occupancy is constant and all the hot water needs for laundry, bathing, cooking and cleaning are substantial,” Perry said. “Aside from the environmental benefits, this system will pay for itself in a short period of time.”

I wonder if the mess hall menu will soon feature organic chicken.

Michael Rosenwald is a reporter on the Post's local enterprise team. He writes about the intersection of technology, business and culture.

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