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LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — Dozens of solar panels used to generate electricity for animals, visitors and staff were recently installed next to the Lee’s Summit Animal Shelter.

City leaders say the 30 kilowatt system with 96 panels will help power the building with energy powered by the sun.

“For a 15-year lease, this is about $47,000, but over that 15 years we’ll realize about $19,000 in actual savings,” Mark Dunning, Lee’s Summit Assistant City Manager said.

That savings will eventually be passed down to residents.

“Nineteen-grand over that period can go along way to public services that we’re not spending on energy bills,” Dunning said.

In April, Lee’s Summit received national recognition with a Solsmart gold designation for the steps it has taken to make it faster, easier, and cheaper for homes and businesses to go solar.

“We’re looking at this as a pilot project and looking for additional opportunities we can do these sorts of things throughout our municipal buildings,” Dunning said.

Some might be surprised to learn that the idea for this solar project was a teenager’s. Zac Burton, now 18, was just 16 years old when he started meeting with city leaders about this idea.

“I’m very passionate about protecting our climate, especially since climate change is a huge issue and solar panels are a good way to stop using coal energy,” Burton said.

Now, seeing the project completed, he’s proud and hopes it inspires similar efforts.

“I just hope this will promote green energy, and all forms of green energy, not just solar to residents and other local cities,” Burton said.

The city expect this solar installation will save $136,128 in energy bills over the course of 25 years.