Solar Roadways project unveiling set

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Heating elements within the colorfully lit LED solar pavement panels melt the snow to keep the surface clear. —Photo courtesy SOLAR ROADWAYS

SANDPOINT — On Sept. 30, the first-ever public demonstration of Solar Roadways will be revealed at Jeff Jones Town Square.

The joint project between the city of Sandpoint and Solar Roadways, Inc. encompasses 150 square feet of the town square. The project is the first test site of the Solar Roadways SR3 panel. Heating elements built into the panels will ensure a snow-and ice-free walking path and the embedded LED lights will be featured in interactive displays to engage children and families.

The solar panels will also feed back into the grid and offset energy usage by the city of Sandpoint, which draws from metered power in the area, and will power the pump for the fountain in the square.

City workers began preparing the area at the square near the end of August, tearing up concrete for installation of the solar infrastructure. In an interview with the Daily Bee in August, City Administrator Jennifer Stapleton said they hoped to have the project ready to unveil to the public by early September, but she also said there was a "fair amount" of logistics to work through, such as appropriate drainage for the snow melt.

Stapleton said the worldwide public interest in the project has been substantial and the owners of Solar Roadways, Inc. have two more projects lined up after the Sandpoint demonstration.

"This project, Scott and Julie have been really committed to having this be in their hometown, and I think from a logistics standpoint that has been really beneficial and important," Stapleton said.

Beginning Sept. 30, a live webcam link will be available on the city's website at www.sandpointidaho.gov for anyone unable to view the demonstration in person. Live footage will be available 24 hours and the website will also allow people to see the fluctuation in energy the panels generate and use each day. The city has been installing infrastructure for fiber Internet, which will come into use with the Solar Roadways project as well.

"Our webcam will be connected with the fiber connection and we are also looking into free public WiFi down there at the square as well," Stapleton said.

The project was funded primarily through a Gem grant through the Idaho Department of Commerce, as well as a grant through the Sandpoint Urban Renewal Agency.

The unveiling ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m. and Scott and Julie Brusaw of Solar Roadways, Inc. will be available afterward for a meet-and-greet and brief questions with the public.

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