A diesel generator powered the facility, was damaged during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The new solar panels generate enough electricity for the entire park every day.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Parks & Recreation marked the installation of 540 solar panels to power Fort Delaware State Park Friday, April 27.

Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons, PSEG representatives, Delaware City Mayor Stanley Green, other state officials and students joined DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin for the dedication ceremony, which featured a tour of the Civil War-era fort and its new solar energy source. The ceremony also marked the opening of Fort Delaware for the season.

A diesel generator, which formerly powered the facility, was damaged during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. As part of the disaster recovery funding, $94,000 was provided by the federal and Delaware emergency management agencies for the design, engineering and infrastructure construction needed to install the solar panels, along with $180,000 from DNREC’s Division of Energy & Climate.

The panels were installed in 2017 and generate 37.5 kilowatts or 170 amps per year, enough to power the entire facility every day, rather than just when the fort is open to the public.

Prior to the installation of the solar array, for the fort to operate during the season, the generator required drums of diesel fuel to be brought over by boat throughout the season. This was not only inefficient, but there were also safety and environmental concerns.

The new solar array provides $18,000 to $20,000 of clean, efficient energy per year, or the equivalent of 180 barrels of diesel fuel. In addition, the new solar array provides power for the entire year, enabling heat, lights, security cameras and dehumidifiers to run in the winter months when parks staff is not available to run the generator.

DNREC partnered with PSEG Power, a New Jersey-based energy company, which donated 700 total solar panels for the project. The panels are located on the roof of the fort, 50 feet above the floodplain and are not visible from the ground or from within the areas of the fort open to the public.

Fort Delaware was built as a Union military post that held approximately 32,000 prisoners over the course of the Civil War. Today, award-winning living-history interpreters put a human face on history. A ferry takes visitors to the fort on Pea Patch Island, which is also known for its wealth of birdlife.

For more, visit destateparks.com/park/fort-delaware or call 834-7941.