Solar maps new tool for Salt Lake City residents

Published: Monday, March 7 2011 11:56 a.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY – Area residents and businesses hoping to tap the solar potential of their property within city limits can utilize a new three-dimensional map to assess if it's cost effective to "let the sunshine in."

The solar mapping feature is part of Solar Salt Lake Project, which is a partnership among the city, Salt Lake County and Utah Clean Energy.

Available at www.slcgov.com/solar, the service allows users to easily learn a property's solar potential. Users can enter an address and "draw" a box around a rooftop or yard space. Calculations are then run to determine how solar power can be harnessed through the installation of electricity-producing photovoltaic cells or other devices to gather solar energy.

"This user-friendly solar map provides residents with easy access to information about the potential of solar energy in our neighborhoods," said Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker. "As part of broader livability initiatives, Salt Lake City has set a goal to facilitate at least 10 megawatts of solar installations by 2015.”

“With tools like the solar map, we’re taking the next steps to encourage and advance sustainability in our city."

Behind the simple computer interface, created by the Denver-based consultant group Critigen, are technologies pioneered by Salt Lake City Geographic Information Systems coordinator Kevin Bell.

Bell found a way to create a detailed, three-dimensional map of the city by extracting data from hyper-accurate laser scans of the Salt Lake Valley collected in recent years by the Utah Automated Geographic Reference Center and U.S. Geological Survey. Residents can also glean information on the appropriate size of a photovoltaic system unique to their property, energy generation potential, cost savings and the quantity of CO2 emissions reduced using solar technology.

Amy Joi O'Donoghue

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