Mosquito District goes green
(left to right) North Shore Mosquito Abatement District's Superintendent Robert Berry comes back from looking at the wind turbine on Tuesday, December 18, 2012 in Northfield. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 9, 2013 11:36AM
NORTHFIELD — In their effort to be leaner and greener, the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District has enjoyed cost savings thanks to an energy efficiency plan launched six years ago.
With the addition of 108 solar panels and a wind turbine to their roof this summer, the NSMAD building, located at 117 Northfield Road, saw its electricity costs drop from $467 in Aug. 2011 to just $171 in Aug. 2012.
“In 2006 the board initiated an energy efficiency project and set up a five-year plan,” said NSMAD Superintendent Robert Berry. “At the end of 2010 we prepared the budget for 2011 and that’s when the project started to move.”
The district began their energy efficiency plan by installing a new roof, insulation, lights and windows to their building. After a consultant looked at the NSMAD’s previous energy bills and determined what size system the building could accommodate, Renewable Energy Alternatives of Arlington Heights installed the panels.
The shorter sunlight hours of winter have slowed the system, but record heat and sun of the summer had the panels producing lots of electricity for the building. The total system is able to produce 28.8 kilowatts at its peak and has been fully operational since June.
“It’s shocking to see how well these work,” said communications manager Dave Zazra. “The board initiative to do this was to save taxpayer dollars and green our footprint.”
The NSMAD serves the communities of Northfield, Winnetka, Morton Grove, Skokie, Evanston, Lincolnwood and portions of Northbrook, Glenview and Niles.
“All the money for the system came out of reserves,” said Board President Carol Blustein. “For the past three years we froze our levy in spite of this green push. In fact, this year we not only froze our levy, but asked for $70,000 less than the county’s appropriation. We’ve really been cognizant on how we spend the taxpayer’s money.”
The goal of the system is to have 100 percent of the NSMAD’s electrical costs covered by the panels with any leftover electricity able to be sold back to ComEd for credits.
Thanks to a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, the NSMAD received about $90,000 of the total $180,000 project costs for the panels.
“The fact that we were going for 100 percent pushed us over the edge (to receive the grant),” Zazra said.