Pilot solar project approved

Council OKs purchase of 42 panels at site outside city

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Englewood is preparing to launch a pilot solar project to provide power for the parks and recreation department pumping station at Belleview Park.

Mike Flaherty, deputy city manager, explained the proposal to the city council at the May 19 study session.

“The council talked about funding a number of projects, including purchasing panels in the solar garden,” he said. “Staff looked at the solar panel project and suggested a pilot program purchasing panels to provide energy credits for a high energy use location. The suggested location is the pumping station at Belleview Park.”

The community-owned solar garden is located on almost four acres of land in Aurora and is operated and maintained by Clean Energy Collective. The company allows residents, businesses and municipalities from Arapahoe, Denver and Jefferson counties to purchase solar panels and receive monthly credits from Xcel Energy for the power produced by those panels.

Flaherty told the council that Michael Hogan, public works facilities and operations manager, proposed a one-time purchase of solar panels to offset the cost of the pumping station energy use.

The pilot program would purchase 42 solar panels at a cost of $34,634. The solar garden owner-operator, Clean Energy Collective, estimates that the cost of purchasing the 42 panels will be equaled by energy credits in four years. Along with renewable energy credits, the savings could total $215,462 over the next 20 years, the company estimates.

Flaherty told the council the original funding for purchasing solar panels was $30,000, so the council will be asked to approve an additional appropriation of $4,634 to match the purchase price of the panels.

He said the pumping station is the best pilot program option for facilities maintained with money from the general fund. He said there is also a high energy use pumping station on the Broken Tee golf course. However, the golf course is an enterprise fund, so a project for solar panels for that pumping station would be paid for with money from the golf course fund.

Councilmember Jill Wilson said she is thrilled to see the city undertaking a solar energy project.

Fellow Councilmember Joe Jefferson agreed. He said the fact that the payback time is only four years is encouraging, and the project should save the city money in the future by reducing the energy costs for operating the pumping station.

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