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The Solar Powered Toll Road

E-470 Public Highway Authority

Award Category: 
Social Responsibility
President's Award
Award Year: 
E-470 Public Highway Authority, The Solar PoE-470’s commitment to being socially responsible and a toll industry leader is demonstrated through its recent effort to rely on cleaner and less costly energy sources. In 2012, E-470 completed one of the largest photovoltaic system installation projects of any toll road in the United States. E-470 is now one of only a few tolling agencies that rely extensively on solar generated electricity. 
Within the 47-mile E-470 corridor, this system powers a 17-mile stretch served by the Xcel Energy electrical grid. The 22 solar sites host solar generated electricity panels for road surveillance cameras, road signage, variable message signs and streetlights, toll collection equipment, toll plazas, maintenance facilities and the E-470 Administrative Headquarters Facility. This project has significantly reduced electricity costs and E-470’s reliance on nonrenewable energy sources. This accomplishment sets the stage for further development of E-470’s long-term plan to increase its use of renewable energy. E-470 is currently pursuing solar power systems for other segments of the toll road.
E-470 embarked on the solar project with three primary objectives: (1) combat rising energy costs, (2) reduce E-470’s environmental impact and (3) achieve these objectives with minimal financial investment. E-470 reached these objectives through the installation of a 707.52-kilowatt (kW) solar system consisting of 22 solar array sites along a 17-mile stretch of the toll road from 64th Avenue to Gartrell Road.
E-470’s solar installation project, among the largest of any toll road agency in America, provides an exemplary case study and blueprint for the tolling industry. The successful implementation of 22 solar sites along E-470 has resulted in reduction of energy costs with no capital investment or operational costs for E-470. Other tolling agencies can look at how these demonstrable results were achieved in order to guide their own similar projects.