Let the sun shine

Two solar panel arrays to come online in State Center today

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STATE CENTER — Just south of U.S. Highway 30 where it passes by State Center, two solar arrays with a total of 2,800 solar panels are set to come online today.

“Basically, it will go online and reduce the amount of power that we have to buy as a community,” said State Center Mayor Harlan Quick of the arrays set up on city property. “That, in the long run, will reduce our expenses, and of course it diversifies our sources of energy.”

He said the city accepted a bid for the project by Iowa Wind and Solar LLC this past June. The arrays are set up adjacent to the city’s sewer lagoons.

“The project itself is about a $1 million cost,” Quick said. “In this case, the expectation is it will be a 12-year payback in terms of the cost.”

City Utility Superintendent Jeff Robinson said the panels will be able to produce 1,267,747 kilowatt hours of energy.

“Basically, that’s enough to run 130 residential or rural rate payers, and that is approximately 16.8 percent of that load of those 130,” he said, adding it’s possible the arrays reduce the city’s power bill by 10-15 percent. “We have 43 miles of rural, we go all the way up to Story County, northwest Marshall (County) all the way up to Story.”

Robinson said it was clear once bids on the project came in that the city should own the arrays.

“They were all very competitive, but when the price came in like this, it was a no-brainer, we had to try to do it ourselves,” he said. “This one we own, we got such a good price on it that we decided to own it ourselves and take the benefits right away.”

The new solar arrays are not part of a power purchase agreement, Robinson said. He added the arrays should help when the city experiences “peak” energy demand in the summer months.

“Everybody has a peak demand, and that’s what you get billed by; the more power you use, that demand goes up, and that’s how we get billed through the meter here at the plant every single month,” Robinson said, adding “When it’s hot in the summer, and the demand is up, that’s when this thing is going to be producing, so that should cut our demand … because we’re offsetting with the solar energy when it’s hot.”

Not including the solar panels, he said the city buys energy through Resale Power Group of Iowa.

Quick also said the solar energy would be good for the city during the summer months.

“By reducing … our demand at that peak period ourselves, this should be to our benefit,” he said, adding the project is an example of “making good use of property we already own.”

Iowa Wind and Solar released a video showing drone footage of the project under construction last month. A link to the video can be found on the company’s Facebook page.

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com