Solar Panels Reduce Prison Energy Costs

A Chesapeake, Va., prison is using solar energy to preheat groundwater and reduce prison energy costs in kitchens and bathrooms.


RICHMOND, VA. St. Brides Correctional Center in Chesapeake, Va., is preheating groundwater for plumbing with solar panels. As a result, they reduce prison energy costs.

The solar panel system, located on the rooftops of the prison’s housing units and kitchen, are saving about $35,000 per year. The system significantly reduces propane use in showers, kitchens and bathrooms.

Instead of taking cold groundwater and sending it to the water heaters, this system is right before the flame and raises the temperature up to somewhere between 120 and 130 degrees,” said Brian Newbern, buildings and grounds superintendent at St. Brides Correctional Center.

Newbern, also the solar energy project manager, said a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 fully funded the $2.3 million project. Installation completed in 2012.

Learn more about the project and tour the panels with Newbern:

Andrea Fox is Editor of and Senior Editor at Lexipol. She is based in Massachusetts.

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