Centuries-old antiquities + solar panels: Hearst Castle mixes ol - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Centuries-old antiquities + solar panels: Hearst Castle mixes old with new to save energy

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Hearst Castle's Refectory (dining room). (KSBY photo) Hearst Castle's Refectory (dining room). (KSBY photo)

California State Parks is taking a big step toward becoming more sustainable.

Several energy saving projects are underway in and around Hearst Castle to reduce its carbon footprint.

Through the castle doors, 2,052 bulbs light up the tours. But with a new energy saving initiative required by the state, 1,417 of them are now LED.

"Our mandate for the executive order is a 40 percent reduction by 2030 and an 80 percent reduction by 2050," said Dan Falat, California State Parks District Superintendent.

The castle has reduced its energy usage from more than 64,000 watts to 22,000 watts with the lighting upgrades.

Down the hill, plans are also in the works to install solar panels.

"Our solar panel project will encompass the parking lot of the Visitor Center which will essentially be this row all the way down these two center sections of the parking lot," Falat explained.

The current rate for lighting the parking lot is 20 cents per kilowatt hour. The project will drop that down to 11 cents.

It equates to $1 million in savings over 25 years, money that can be used for other projects.

"We're constantly looking at new programs, new tour opportunities, ways that we can better serve the public," Falat added.

Also in the parking lot, 14 new car charging stations will be installed by next month. It's another step toward serving its 750,000 visitors a year while transitioning into a more eco-friendly direction.

State Parks is also still working on the pool, which will have energy saving pumps, as well.

A new digital projector went up last month in the Visitor Center Theater. It's already cut down energy usage by at least 30 percent. 

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