HANFORD — Kings County’s parking lot solar power project got an official dedication Tuesday, bringing to a close an eight-year effort to increase efficiency at the Kings County Government Center and the Kings County Library Hanford branch.

The project is expected to save the county $12 million over the life of the improvements — money officials say they plan to use on other priorities, such as expanding the new jail.

“It’s nothing but savings after the financing is paid off,” said Larry Spikes, county administrative officer.

“We can invest that money in much-needed government programs,” said Supervisor Joe Neves.

Tuesday’s ceremony brought together Kings County supervisors with representatives from Chevron Energy Solutions, Southern California Edison and Daewoo International America Corp.

Chevron built and designed the project, SCE worked out a deal to credit the county with solar-generated power and Daewoo provided the panels.

The project began in 2004 with 10 natural gas-powered microturbines that produce electricity and recycle the excess heat to generate more. The list of improvements includes new air conditioning units, upgraded irrigation systems, retrofitted lights and the prominent solar structures over the main government center parking lot and the main lot at the Kings County Library branch in Hanford.

“This board will be known for years and years as the board that pulled the trigger,” said Damien Douglas, a field representative for state Sen. Michael Rubio, D-Bakersfield. 

“We believe that Kings County is taking a huge leap forward toward the integration of clean-energy programs,” said Jae Mo Koo, a renewable energy specialist at Daewoo.

Supervisors said they were glad about reduced pollution because of the project, but emphasized the economic savings to local taxpayers.

But those savings would not have been as great without state grants promoting solar power, Spikes said. 

“It doesn’t pencil out unless you get the [state] grant,” Spikes added. “You’ve got to get those grants up front.”

Koo announced that Daewoo was donating $5,000 to Friends of the Kings County Library and $5,000 to the Kings County Sheriff’s K-9 Unit.

“I’m excited about the solar project,” said Kings County Sheriff Dave Robinson. “I think it’s pretty cool.”

“Library patrons for years have never had shade,” said Wilma Humason, Friends of the Library president. “Now, just look at this! They have shade.”

The reporter can be reached at 583-2432 or snidever@HanfordSentinel.com

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