ABU GHRAIB, Iraq - A courthouse should be a place where the law is upheld and enforced at all times, but with only a few hours of electricity to last the entire work day, the judicial system in Iraq has been rather limited.
Local and Iraqi Army leaders joined U.S. Army officials from 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division Jan. 25 to pass judgment on the issue when they cut the ribbon for a new solar powered battery system at the Abu Ghraib Supreme Court Justice Center Courthouse.
With power conservation being a major challenge for the area, officials say the solar powered courthouse won't be restricted to the limits of the national power grid.
"The use of electricity in this area is very frugal," said Capt. Cynthia Ling, a San Sebastian, Puerto Rico native and project purchasing officer for the Raider Brigade. "Now that the building is using solar energy, the courthouse's hours of operation will be extended, which will provide help for the people with legal issues."
This project, identified by courthouse officials, took more than six months and $372,900 to finish, completed by Iraqi contractors who employed 60 local workers.
"Everyone working together [creates] better results," said the Qada Chairman Kamal Abbas Thahi. "The solar power project will cover the services for the people of Abu Ghraib."
The added electricity also powers lighting at night, improving security for the building and the surrounding area.
In addition to the solar panels, other improvements to courthouse facilities were made.
"We are helping this community with a vital resource," said Ling. "Part of this project was also to provide supplies, such as copy machines and the completion of a driveway that would lead up to the courthouse."
The ribbon cutting was a mark for the beginning of the solar powered courthouse but also a symbol for renewed partnership, said Iraqi leaders.
"I appreciate the shaykhs of Abu Ghraib, who coordinated continuously with Mr. Kamal Abbas to help succeed the project of solar power," said Shaykh Husayn Khames al-Tamimi, the tribal council leader for Abu Ghraib.
With the cleaner, safer and renewable power source in place, U.S. leaders say judges will no longer be blinded by power outages but will now be able to serve all Abu Ghraib Iraqis equitably.
"This is a great benefit to the people of Iraq," said Col. John Norris, the 4th Bde., 2nd Inf. Div. Commander. "I am proud to see that we came together on this project because this will allow the government to provide full support to these citizens."