By Tia Lynn Ivey
The City of Madison is considering a $75,000 investment into solar energy for some city buildings. According to City Manager David Nunn, adding solar panels as another energy source will not only be “green” for the environment but bring back a little green to the city’s wallet in the future.
“There would be a positive return in just over 10 years,” said Nunn of solar panels that have a 30-plus-year lifespan. “That $75,000 would pay for the initial investment and when make a positive return on that investment,”
Nunn proposed the plan at the last city work session earlier this month. He noted there could be opportunities for grants or low-interest loans from GEFA to fund the city’s initial investment. The GEFA loan would incur a two to three percent interest rate.
“Every new building or renovation, we are looking at the possibility of installing solar panels,” said Nunn. “This will help shave our power costs.
The Smith Building, the Hill Park restrooms and City’s Public Safety Complex building are first up on the list to receive solar panels should the city move forward with Nunn’s proposal.
Councilman Eric Joyce expressed support for the plan.
“It seems like a no brainer to me when you look at those kind of numbers to get solar out there to at least reduce some of these costs,” said Joyce who was shocked to learn how much the city currently spends on utility costs. “The icing on the cake is we are doing something progressive for the environment, but the cake is the savings for taxpayers, that’s how I see it…I think it’s a great way to go.”
Joyce pointed on just a few city buildings’ energy costs to bolster his point. He noted the Indian Creek Facility runs up about $6,000 per month in electric bills. The October Plant I’m northern part of town also runs up about $6,000 per month. The Southside Wastewater Treatment Plant runs up about $3,000 per month.
“I hadn’t realized how much money we spent on these facilities,” said Joyce. “It’s stunning.”
The city will further investigate the benefits of solar energy before the council will take a vote.
“Continue to do research on this to see how much it will save our city before we make that decision,” said Madison Mayor Fred Perriman.