City meeting

Photo by Carla Waters

Bob Vedder of Preeminent Development of Bourbonnais talks with the city council’s public safety committee Tuesday.

A solar company could provide solar energy services for the city of Watseka.

Bob Vedder, of Preeminent Development of Bourbonnais and Native Sun Group from Colorado Springs, Colorado, spoke to the pubic safety committee Tuesday.

The offering would be no capital outlay, lower fixed rates and a 15 percent cash incentive.

“In talking with the mayor I conducted a preliminary survey of the utility use within the city,” he said. “We addressed a number items from the waste water district, to the park district, the library, city services, etc., across the board.

“To make a long story short, we looked at putting up a community solar system to the tune of two megawatts,” he said.

That amount of solar energy he said, “should more than suffice for the city services and maybe have a little extra for a private business that may want to be a subscriber to this program.

“The benefit of this program is the fact that you have to come up with no money out of pocket,” he said. “Our lender finances the project and to take things to even a different level, they monetize the tax credit that the state cannot use and in turn, when we commission the system, they give you 14 percent approximately of the 30 percent tax credit in cash. So on the two megawatt system is about $640,000 in cash that you can do whatever you want with. That’s quite a benefit.

“The system will be owned by you in term of 15 years. It’s turned over to you automatically,” he said. “The way it’s paid for is the current use of electricity. We actually think we can get it lower than what it is and that will be the payment to pay off the system. The system is warranted. Panels are warranted to approximately 20 years. The life expectancy is 25.”

He said the company still takes out insurance on the overall project “so you are never out of pocket for any service. We will also train somebody in house from the city to maintain the equipment. You can have anybody cut the grass. As far as the panels, if they get a little dirty…. The biggest question I had recently is what if snow gets on it. Well, if there’s snow on it, then it’s not working, because the snow will be melted off the panel.

“Another fallacy is that solar won’t work in Illinois. It works extremely well in Illinois, because of not so much the sun, but the UV rays in the state. We make more electricity off the UVs than the sun.”

Vedder asked the aldermen to look at the information that he provided and to think of questions. “Review it when you have time and put questions together,” he said, noting that he would like to have another meeting with the aldermen.

The lender, he said, has “no cap” on costs.

Mayor John Allhands said he has had several talks with Vedder and decided that it was time to bring the matter to the aldermen.

Allhands asked about land requirements.

“We did a preliminary study,” Vedder said, noting that he would have to go through more details on where the city properties are. If they can’t find enough city-owned property they could buy land to put the system in. The system would not have to be on one parcel. It could be spread around the area, he said. Overall they would need about eight acres.

Vedder said the school district could also be involved if there was an agreement between the two government bodies.

The project is not for residential, he said. “If there are people in the town that wants residential systems done in their homes, we can bring somebody in that we will vet to make sure they do a righteous job.”

He said the energy costs going in to the project would be less than what the city is paying now. “We lock in for the term of the equipment,” he said.

Alderwoman Monna Ulfers asked, “What would be negative?”

“There’s nothing negative,” Vedder said. “This is not going to go away.” Many projects at state and federal levels are solar, he said. Other projects like geothermal and other sources, have also been around for a long time.

The aldermen informally agreed to look at the material and then talked about having another meeting with Vedder.

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