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GSA Administrator Martha Johnson Views Midwest’s Largest Solar Panel Array, Talks to Local Leaders about the Potential for Solar Technology in the Midwest

Lessons learned from local project to aid solar expansion, create jobs.

GSA# 10805

July 13, 2011
Gail Montenegro, 312-202-2905
gail.montenegro@gsa.gov

INDIANAPOLIS – Today, GSA Administrator Martha N. Johnson toured Indianapolis’ Maj. Gen. Emmett J. Bean Federal Center rooftop solar array and led a round-table discussion on the potential for solar power in the Midwest. Bean is home to the Midwest’s largest rooftop collection of solar panels, including a solar test lab demonstrating how four different innovative solar technologies will perform under Midwestern weather conditions.

“Across the country, GSA is investing in innovative technologies to save taxpayer dollars and invest in the jobs of the 21st century,” said Johnson. “The Bean Federal Center’s 6,000 panel installation, the largest in the Midwest, and solar test lab provide a unique opportunity to rigorously test and analyze the performance of emerging photovoltaic technologies that will enhance our understanding of solar technologies and contribute to decision-making nationwide.”

Participants toured the building’s rooftop solar panel installation – the largest rooftop array in the Midwest, with 6,152 photovoltaic panels generating nearly two megawatts of renewable energy, offsetting 7 percent of the 1.6 million-square-foot building’s electricity use.  

A part of the solar array is an innovative solar test lab. The test lab is the result of a partnership between GSA and the Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories that will monitor the performance of four innovative solar technologies and assess their performance and practicality in the Midwestern climate. A mini weather station will measure and collect temperature, sunshine, and other data to help analyze the output of the varying test panels. This project will deliver reliable, objective data on which photovoltaic systems work best in the climate typical of the Midwest – hot, humid summers; cold winters; frequent cloud cover; and high precipitation.

Following the tour, Johnson joined area representatives from business, academia, and government to take part in a panel discussion, titled “Solar Power in the Midwest,” about the use of solar technology in the Midwest as a source of energy and green jobs.

“What we’ve heard here today is that solar technology and other clean-energy technologies are quickly becoming the backbone of the 21st century economy,” said Johnson. “In addition to supporting manufacturing jobs in solar panel factories, investment in solar technology creates highly skilled, green-collar careers in construction, design, and installation that are central to America’s energy independence and the continued strength of our nation’s clean-energy economy.”

Panelists included representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy, Sandia National Laboratories, Shiel Sexton, Dewberry, Indianapolis Power & Light Co., SunPower Corp., the Indianapolis Airport Authority, and the Indiana Renewable Energy Association.

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The Bean Federal Center was built in 1953 as the Army Finance Center at the former Fort Benjamin Harrison and was acquired by GSA in 1996. The three-story building houses the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in its 1.6 million square feet of space.

As the federal government's workplace solutions provider, the U.S. General Services Administration works to foster an effective, sustainable and transparent government for the American people. GSA’s expertise in government workplace solutions include:

• Effective management of government assets including more than 9,600 government-owned or leased buildings and 215,000 vehicles in the federal fleet, and preservation of historic federal properties;
• Leveraging the government’s buying power through responsible acquisition of products and services making up approximately 14 percent of the government’s total procurement dollars;
• Providing innovative technology solutions to enhance government efficiency and increase citizen engagement; and,
• Promoting responsible use of federal resources through development of governmentwide policies ranging from federal travel to property and management practices.