O’Donovan’s company has been installing the photovoltaic panels — which serve a dual purpose by creating hundreds of shaded parking spaces — since January. The $8 million system, paid for with federal stimulus funds, will generate enough wattage to power 1,800 homes, Donovan said; investment payback will come in eight years, O’Donovan said. The system should generate for 20 years, he said.
The Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s much smaller photovoltaic system — with 23 solar panels — was switched on in September 2012 after a three-year delay caused by legal questions over liability. While that system was expected to provide only 7 percent of the AEDC building’s needs, the point of installing it was to familiarize local business with the technology, energy office director Scott Hamilton said. O’Donovan said the VA system should also build public awareness about renewable technology.