Pima County, Pima Community College, Solon Corp. and the Northwest YMCA have dedicated a solar panel covered parking system, one of the first to be built without incentives, at the Northwest YMCA.

The system was provided by Solon with no up-front cost and will save the partners money beginning with the first year of operation.

The solar panels provide covered parking for 200 parking spots in the YMCA’s lower lot as well as provide 84 percent of the electricity for the branch. The panels will save the YMCA and partners more than $1 million over the next 25 years.

“The electricity generated by the panels will be sold to the Y, Pima County and Pima Community College at a low discounted rate that’s locked in for the next 20 years,” said William Richardson, general manager of Solon.

Benefits of the project include saving more than 2 million gallons of water each year. Annual environmental impacts include reducing:

• 2,223,152 pounds of greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide).

• 6,755 pounds of nitrogen oxide.

• 7,983 pounds of sulfur dioxide.

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• 16,888 milligrams of mercury, a toxic metal.

“The savings are tremendous, both financially and environmentally,” said Dane Woll, CEO and president of the YMCA of Southern Arizona. “And an added bonus is the shade that the solar panels are now providing in the parking lot – we will all be grateful for that this summer!”

The benefits also extend to Pima Community College, where nearly 1,000 students participate in classes at the Y including dance, basketball, weightlifting and yoga.

The partnership broke ground on the solar panels in early summer of 2014 and celebrated their completion with a dedication ceremony Jan. 16.