Here comes the sun

Roseville nearly set for solar at city campus

 

Despite a recent gloomy turn of the weather, the Roseville City Council is fixed on sunnier days ahead.

During their Sept. 17 work session, council members green-lit a plan for solar panels to be installed on the roofs of City Hall, the city’s fire station and the city’s maintenance facility.

Though there was no official vote — that’s planned for next month — city staffers were instructed to nail down installation and finance details with iDEAL Energies, which presented plans to the council that night. 

The work ahead of the formal approval is to make sure the city can make use of current state incentives that are likely to become less enticing early next year.

As explained in city documents, city staffers have worked for years to find a solar panel plan that worked for the council, which had shut the lights off on other past proposals.

“I’m actually good,” said council member Tammy McGehee with respect to the latest solar proposal. “I’m finally happy.”

 

Energy savings

iDEAL Energies, which has done work for Ramsey County, Shoreview and other cities, showed plans for installing solar arrays on the three building’s roofs. 

The option of putting panels on the roof of the Roseville Skating Center was scrapped because of planned roofing work — $300,000 worth — on the center in three to four years, as was a ground-based array near City Hall, since it would be too costly to insure.

Each of the other building’s roofs are relatively new.

Installing and maintaining the arrays through the first decade-plus of having them, as explained in the presentation and city documents, would be essentially cost neutral for the city.

Representatives from iDEAL Energies said that between savings on the city’s electricity bill and the tax incentives and other monies collected by the company as payment, along with other fees paid from the company to the city, Roseville would turn a small profit from having the solar panels.

Public Works Director Marc Culver told the council that the panels on top of the maintenance facility would make the biggest difference on the Xcel bill each year, by providing an expected 56 percent of the electricity for the building. The array on City Hall, smaller so panels can be moved for roof repairs, would annually provide 25 percent of that buildings’ power.

Once the city’s contract with iDEAL Energies ends, likely after 13 years, the city’s savings on energy are expected to jump to around $10,000 each year, as the company turns over full control of the arrays to the city.

 

About time

Though only a handful of residents spoke during the public comment portion of the discussion, the sentiment could be summed up by one man, a solar energy enthusiast, who said to the council, “Yeah, it’s about damn time you showed up. So keep doing more of this.”

While there was agreement among council members that they were ready to move forward with the plan, council members Lisa Laliberte and Bob Willmus pumped the brakes and recommended that the financial aspects of it should be looked over by the city Finance Commission before it’s finalized.

The commission next meets in mid-October, and City Manager Pat Trudgeon said he’d make sure commission members were given their say in the matter before the council could potentially take a final vote on the solar arrays at its Oct. 22 meeting.

Assuming approval happens in a month’s time, winter-time work to ready each building for solar installation would commence, then, as temperatures rise, the solar panels would be installed and come on line.

 

- Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813.

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