YMCA Goes Green

CELINA — A local organization is turning toward green energy to help with its power costs.

The Auglaize/Mercer Counties Family YMCA has teamed up with Solar Planet for the installation of solar panels on the facility’s property. The project, which has no cost to the YMCA for installation or maintenance, is expected to produce 521,680 kilowatts of energy per year for the YMCA.

“A former board member is on our foundation and had been in contact with the contractor we are working with regarding programs in the area for solar,” CEO Allen Baskett told The Evening Leader on Thursday. “The Solar Planet folks only do this kind of work for schools and nonprofit groups and they had been looking for a project in this area.”

The incentive for the YMCA is simple — the solar field will provide the organization with clean, cheap energy. The only cost to the YMCA is a commitment to purchase the energy produced by the solar field as well as adding the equipment to its insurance policies.

“We wouldn’t even be talking if we had to pay for the installation costs,” Baskett said. “We do have to buy energy from the manufacturers, but it’s a reduced price than what we are paying now.”

Baskett said he also spoke with national officials from the YMCA regarding the project.

“They said some Ys that have solar usually use it to heat their pool water and on other smaller things,” Baskett said. “They felt that if we had a company that will cover the cost of installation, it’s probably worth the efforts to try the program and see how we benefit long-term.”

Crews have already started putting the support poles in the ground for the project. The project is expected to be completed in January.

“The panels will be delivered in a week, but a lot more wiring and cable has to go in,” Baskett said. “We are expecting that after Thanksgiving, they will start putting the panels in and doing testing and making connections to our facility.”