Lamar Advertising, the publicly traded Baton Rouge-based outdoor advertising company, is installing solar panels and energy-efficient LED lighting on the signs in Baton Rouge and more than 70 additional markets.
“During the day, they will pump power into the grid,” Raad Cawthon, a spokesman for the company on the project, said of the panels. “At night, when they turn the lights on, they will pull power out of the grid. They produce more power than they actually use.”
The total effort is to cost over $10 million and will equip more than 1,000 billboards across the state with the capacity to generate solar or wind energy by 2012. The work is partially paid for by a $2.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, but Lamar is spending its own money on the rest.
The company is refocusing its efforts to useing renewable energy and cutting back on carbon emissions and has already put $15 million into such efforts. Changes to date include printing its boards on recyclable materials and using ink that releases fewer chemical fumes.
“While this will eventually be good for Lamar’s bottom line, one of the main reasons we are undertaking this project is to show Louisiana residents that this exact technology can be utilized to convert their homes to renewable energy,” said Robert B. Switzer, vice president of operations for the company. “That’s why we are intentionally avoiding unproven technologies or methods. The large-scale deployment of hundreds of small systems, like we are undertaking with the conversion of each structure, closely resembles the kind of renewable energy systems available to most homeowners.