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Council approves solar canopy for parking at St. Pete pier district

ST. PETERSBURG – City Council voted Thursday to enter into a lease with Duke Energy Florida to build covered parking out of solar panels at the new Pier District.

The project will provide 100 covered parking spaces with a roof made of solar panels, said sustainability manager Sharon Wright.

“It’s a pretty simple canopy structure,” Wright told council. “The solar panels aren’t on top of the structure. The panels are the roof structure itself.”

The canopy will be in a section of a pier parking lot whose users will include patrons of a proposed Doc Ford's Rum Bar and Grille and nearby public boat slips.

The panels are big enough to collect enough energy to power the equivalent of 40 homes a year, Wright said.

Duke Energy would own, lease and maintain the property, Wright said. The project at the Pelican parking lot on the southern side of the pier approach will cost $2 million, which Duke will pay.

Council member Ed Montanari expressed some concern about two signs that will be near the structure to inform the public about solar energy.

“I’m starting to get just a little bit concerned about how many signs we’re going to have out there at the pier,” Montanari said, referencing other signs and projects in the new pier district.

Details as to how big the signs are, where they'll be placed and what information they'll include has not been finalized. Ultimately, Wright said, those decisions are at the mayor's discretion.

City council unanimously approved the lease. Council members Lisa Wheeler-Bowman and Brandi Gabbard were not present.