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Shawnee Mission Park's John Barkley Visitors Center featured among local Solar Tour Sites
POSTED: 10/01/2003
The John Barkley Visitor Center near the entrance of Shawnee Mission Park, 7900 Renner Road, Shawnee, will be among local sites featured as part of the American Solar Energy Society's (ASES) Eighth Annual National Solar Tour on Oct. 4.

The ASES Solar Tour is a national event featuring more than 1,200 homes, businesses, and public buildings meant to showcase a variety of solar-energy generating systems.

The John Barkley Visitor Center, which has also been included on the ASES tour in past years as well, features 64 solar panels which convert sunlight into electricity which helps supplement the building's lighting. The unit is a 1220-watt solar array, which can generate enough electricity to power 12 100-watt light bulbs. Unlike traditional units, it does not use batteries, but converts energy from the solar panels to direct current and "dumps" it into the main grid for the building. A display within the center shows visitors how the system works and indicates how much electricity the panels are generating.

The visitor center's solar system, which is considered a demonstration/research project, was installed when the park visitor center was renovated in 1994 and was a joint venture of the Johnson County Park and Recreation District, Kansas City Power and Light, the United Solar System Corporation, the Electrical Power Research Institute, and Bill Rousch, a local sales representative of the manufacturer. At the time of its installation, the solar panels were only the second in the country to test this particular type of system and were believed to be the first to use the solar panels to replace roofing material instead of being mounted above the roof.

For more information about the local observation of the Solar Tour, contact Tesa Brown with the Heartland Renewable Energy Society at (816) 531-7283 or visit the group's website at For more information on the solar system at the John Barkley Visitor Center, contact Superintendent of Park Safety and Interpretation Mike Ray at (913) 438-7275.

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