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Tolling Points

Innovative: Solar Powered Toll Road Cuts Costs, Boosts Safety

By: 
Bill Cramer

After the E-470 Public Highway Authority in Aurora, Colorado saw its energy costs jump 33% between 2002 and 2006, it began searching for a more affordable, reliable way to power its operations.

The result was a network of solar-electric (photovoltaic) cells along a 17-mile stretch of highway that stabilized the highway’s energy costs, promised more than $1 million savings over the 20-year life of the project, and earned E-470 IBTTA’s coveted President’s Award for Excellence in 2013.

Solar cells supply 714.9 kilowatts of electricity across 18 ramps, several toll plazas, a main support site, and the E-470 headquarters and data center. The system makes E-470 drivers safer by powering wrong-way driver signs on exit ramps, and providing reliable power for two surveillance cameras in remote location, where the cost of grid electricity would be prohibitive.

E-470’s investors got to write off the depreciation on the equipment, said Operations Manager Walt Arnason, and the highway authority gained a fixed electricity price of 6.2¢ per kilowatt hour for the first seven years, with a minimal annual increase after that. With retail electricity prices at 11.5¢/kWh as of April 2014, E-470 is “already saving dollars by going with this approach,” he said.

Click here to download IBTTA’s SmartMove Success Story on E-470’s Solar Powered Toll Road.

What innovation is your toll organization using that others might benefit from?

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