Increasing energy efficiency has been the talk, now local partners are taking action to make it happen.

Key Pen Parks, the Key Peninsula Civic Center Association (KPCCA) and PenLight have partnered on construction of an 18-foot by 36-foot picnic shelter (576 square feet) to be located in the KPCCA park. The shelter will be topped with a solar power generating array.

Groundbreaking took place in early October, after a waiting period for a Shoreline Conditional Use Permit. A concrete slab has been poured and park staff will be constructing the shelter.

“We are planning for this to be a fall/winter project,” said Key Pen Parks Executive Director, Scott Gallacher. “PenLight is interested in installing solar panels as a project with Bonneville Power Foundation, and Peninsula School District. We are planning to have the project completed and a ribbon cutting at the Key Peninsula Livable Fair in May, but hope to have it completed by March of 2014.”

Tables build by Boy Scout from Troop 220 will be used with the project.

Funding sources for the shelter include Key Pen Parks’ capital budget, grants from the Angel Guild, the Key Peninsula Park and Recreation Foundation, PenLight, and the Bonneville Power Foundation.

The cost for permits was $2,400, as Pierce County waived $7,500 in permit fees. Materials and labor for the picnic shelter –– wood milled from Volunteer Park, concrete, concrete finishing and metal roofing totaled $6,500.

The solar panel installation is being managed by PenLight. Its energy output is to be monitored from kiosks located at Vaughn Elementary School and at the Civic Center, as an educational component of the project.