Commissioners

Photo by Nick Fiala

Jasper County Commissioners Jim Walstra and Kendell Culp sit in session Monday.

RENSSELAER — Mark Falahee, of Trane, visited the Jasper County Commissioners to give an update on the progress of a deal to cover a solar farm project that could help supply power to the Jasper County Jail.

Falahee has previously stated the jail is a good candidate for solar power since it has the land needed for the solar panels and solar can help offset high utility costs.

Bank of America is behind the project and is offering a what it calls a good rate on a loan. This past week, Trane had a preliminary call to close the deal with Bank of America. Falahee said this is “basically just getting everything together to go ahead and finalize” the deal.

“Things are moving forward quite well, I think,” Falahee said. “Now it’s just the details at this point of getting the final documentation to Bank of America. We do have a closing date established.”

The installation process will be led by Jim Shaw, who recently installed the solar array at the Kankakee Valley School Corporation. The jail is expected to have $2.3 million in savings in 10 years by using solar energy to handle the heavy workload to supply power during extremely hot or cold days. All of the accumulated energy would be used strictly to power the jail.

“My understanding, also, is that IMPA has signed a power purchase agreement,” Falahee said. “Jim has told me that.”

The only outstanding factor is Rensselaer city officials wish to ensure adequate insurance is included with the project. Stace Pickering, of Ci Insurance, has been representing the city’s concerns in the matter.

“The city also has concern, from the liability side, of feeding that back into their system if there’s an accidental overcharge or something like that,” Pickering said. “Property size is not a problem whatsoever. We quoted that a couple months ago when we talked about adding it.”

Pickering said he is working to help get those last issues with the city’s insurance carriers settled soon.

“Our understanding is once that little bit of due diligence is complete between the county and the city, we’ll be in place as well,” Falahee said.

Overall, the parties involved are confident the necessary deals for the park will be closed soon.

“I think we’ve got our check marks; we’ve got all of our items,” Falahee said. “And so we’re working against that. And I think, then, our close is set for Nov. 22. And then I think it’s a done deal.”

Falahee has previously predicted it will take around six or seven months for the insulation work and upgrades to the system which are required at the jail. The solar panels can feasibly be installed in the same time frame. But the timing for completion on parts of the project may be weather-dependent, Falahee said.