Solar-Powered Pilot Program Advances In OC

OCEAN CITY – Officials in Ocean City expect to have solar lighting installed at select bus shelters throughout the resort by next spring as part of a new pilot program.

In an Ocean City Transportation Committee meeting Tuesday, resort officials agreed the town would pursue an $11,000 pilot program that would test the effectiveness of different solar lighting products at six bus shelters across town.

Since May, the committee has reviewed options for lighting otherwise dark and shaded bus shelters throughout the resort. In August, for example, town staff presented the committee with one option to add solar LED lighting to the inside of the bus shelters and another option to convert existing street lights near the bus shelters to LED.

After initial testing, however, it was discovered that LED lights installed on the street poles were either too high for the light to permeate the bus shelters’ translucent roofs or placed too sporadically, and the committee agreed to pursue a program that would test the effectiveness of solar LED lighting installed within the shelters.

“The next step would be to do a pilot program of different solar components where a solar device is roof-mounted on the shelter and the actual lighting device is ceiling-mounted within the shelter and see how it works,” Public Works Director Hal Adkins told the committee this week.

Adkins said the idea of the program is to test three different solar lighting brands at six bus shelters in town.

Currently, the town has one solar lighting unit at a bus shelter on 48th Street, which was installed years ago, according to town officials. Officials noted, however, that the existing light would need to be replaced and would be used as a location for the pilot program.

“The Gateway Grand shelter at 48th Street northbound is the only shelter we currently have that has a solar component that unfortunately is malfunctioning …,” Adkins said. “We basically have to remove the devices that are in there because you can’t get parts to fix them, so it will become one of those locations.”

Adkins added that town staff would outline specifications for the solar panels before selecting test products.

“Once this topic hit the papers a few weeks ago, the phones started ringing,” he said. “There are multiple vendors out there that would love to supply us their product line.”

Officials said the pilot program is expected to cost $11,000 and could possibly be implemented by next spring.

“We will move forward once funding is secured,” Adkins said. “The ultimate goal is to try and get something installed in the next six months as we head into the spring.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.