These 4 Johnson County cities now have solar panels powering public buildings

Johnson County solar panels

The cities of Prairie Village and Roeland Park have joined Merriam and Shawnee in being the few Johnson County cities with solar panel installations at municipal facilities. Solar panels were recently installed on top of Prairie Village's public works building, above.

Prairie Village and Roeland Park joined Merriam and Shawnee as the only cities in northern Johnson County with solar panel installations at city facilities.

The city of Merriam has had a solar panel installation on the roof of the Visitors Bureau since 2010 after winning the Take Charge Challenge hosted by Kansas City Power and Light (now Evergy).

Jennifer Jones Lacy, Merriam’s assistant city administrator, said the installation’s technology is aging, but the city is exploring options to repair or replace the panels.

Fire Station 72 in Shawnee at 5850 Renner Road also has a solar panel installation. Assistant City Administrator Caitlin Gard said the $143,000 installation generates more energy than is consumed in the summer months, and has “reduced the electricity purchased from utility by 90% in that building” in one year.

Shawnee’s installation was part of a comprehensive energy efficiency program administered by the city and the Kansas Facility Conservation Improvement program, Gard said, and will save the city nearly $1 million annually.

Roeland Park

Now, after years of working to bring solar panels to their respective city facilities, both Roeland Park and Prairie Village saw those plans become reality this summer.

Roeland Park installed solar panels at both its city hall and community center in May.

Erin Winn, assistant city administrator said Roeland Park is “excited to continue its role as regional leaders in municipal climate action.”

“The city is thrilled to see this project come to fruition,” Winn said in an email to the Shawnee Mission Post. “It’s an important step in our efforts to ensure energy efficient municipal operations.”

Winn said the city expects “a significant solar offset” at both facilities. That is, the new solar panel installations will produce energy to offset some of the energy consumed in each building.

Additionally, Winn said the city is working with Evergy to develop an online “performance dashboard” that allows the public to monitor the installations’ energy production and consumption.

Prairie Village

Prairie Village recently installed solar panels at its new public works facility at 3535 Somerset Drive, the same site of the former public works building.

The new building, though not officially open, is on track to be a Platinum-certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, facility by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Prairie Village Mayor Eric Mikkelson said during his July 19 mayor’s report that solar panels are just one of the aspects of the building contributing to its LEED Platinum certification — the highest certification possible determined by LEED for rating the environmental impacts of buildings.

Although the city’s new public works building isn’t officially open yet, the solar panels are on, Mikkelson said.

“The solar panels were turned on [the week of July 12],” Mikkelson said during the July 19 city council meeting. “Today’s sun powered our public works building.”

Other cities like Overland Park are working on solar energy projects.

Meg Ralph, digital communications supervisor, said a $3.65 million vehicle storage facility at the Sanders Justice Center will include a solar power element.