SPRINGFIELD -- Some 21st-century technology is coming to the 19th-century Executive Mansion in Springfield.

SPRINGFIELD -- Some 21st-century technology is coming to the 19th-century Executive Mansion in Springfield.

Gov. Pat Quinn says solar panels that will generate one kilowatt of electricity will be installed at the mansion as part of the state’s ongoing efforts to make the governor’s official residence green.

Both the panels and the installation are being donated to the state.

“We must do everything we can to increase our use of solar energy, which will help us protect natural resources and reduce our reliance on traditional energy resources,” Quinn said in a written statement.

Mixing modern technology with a building that’s been home to Illinois’ governors since 1855 can be tricky, especially when the building, at Fifth and Jackson streets, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Mansion curator David Bourland, though, said his understanding is the panels “are going to be on the very top of the mansion” and out of public view.

“It won’t alter the historic look of the mansion at all,” he said. “My understanding is the (state) Historic Preservation Agency people were over there, and they were good with the plan.”

A spokesman for the agency could not provide confirmation of that Monday.

The panels are being donated by WindFree Energy Co. of Chicago and BYD America of Arlington Heights. WindFree founder Doug Snower said it still hasn’t been determined what size system will be installed.

“It will be based on a site evaluation,” Snower said. “One concern is the historic presevation department is concerned about the visual impact. We’re going to be very concerned about where we place it to minimize any visual impact on the ground.”

At this point, it is likely the installation will consist of four to eight panels, each roughly six by three feet, Snower said. The company will meet with state officials and contractors this week. After that, it will take about two weeks for the equipment to bhe delivered and a couple of days for installation.

“We hope it will be up by the end of the month,” Snower said.

Members of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 193 will install the panels at no charge to the state. Just when that will happen hasn’t been determined. Local 193 business manager Dave Burns said the union will meet with state officials this week to work out details.

Burns said IBEW contractors agreed to do the work.

“We were contacted by (the Capital Development Board) and asked if we’d be interested in donating some time,” Burns said.

The IBEW installed solar panels on its new headquarters building on Wide Track Drive, which opened last summer.

“The neat part of solar panels is they are getting more efficient all of the time,” Burns said. “A little here and a little there takes the place of carbon generation. Once you pay for them, it’s free electricity.”

Quinn said the solar panels will join LED lighting, rain barrels and a community vegetable garden at the mansion as part of the state’s efforts to go green.


Doug Finke can be reached at 788-1527.


Solar output

When the sun is fully shining, the solar panels to be installed at the Illinois Executive Mansion will produce one kilowatt of electricity per hour, said Doug Snower of Windfree Energy Co. of Chicago.

The expectation is that, over the course of a year, the panels will produce four kilowatt hours of electricity per day. A typical home uses several hundred kilowatt hours per month.

A installation like that planned for the mansion would cost about $7,000 for a typical residence before incentives, Snower said. However, federal and state incentives can cut 60 percent off the cost of installation, he said.