City powering up with 2 solar energy projects.

By Oliver Townsend May 29, 2024
City moving forward with 2 solar energy projects.jpegOrginal image from:

Implementing solar energy projects is a crucial step towards sustainable and eco-friendly practices. The Albert Lea City Council recently made the decision to proceed with two solar energy projects in the city, one at the wastewater treatment plant and the other at the city arena. These projects are set to be executed by Apex Solutions of Coon Rapids, under a guaranteed energy-saving agreement.

City Arena Solar Energy Project

The solar energy system at the city arena will be installed on the arena roof, with an estimated cost of approximately $652,000. Federal incentives are expected to cover about $195,000 of the total cost. City Manager Ian Rigg stated that this project guarantees an annual utility savings of around $22,800, with a simple payback period of 20 years, taking into account the federal incentives. In optimal conditions, the solar energy system at the arena is projected to produce 208 kilowatts, equivalent to 21% of the arena’s current electrical usage.

Wastewater Treatment Plant Solar Energy Project

At the wastewater treatment plant, the solar panels will be constructed over two acres, with an estimated cost of about $1.3 million. Federal incentives are expected to cover approximately $394,000 of the total cost. The payback period for this project is estimated to be 15.3 years, factoring in the federal incentives. The solar field at this site is anticipated to produce about 475 kilowatts under optimal conditions.

Long-Term Benefits and Considerations

City Manager Ian Rigg mentioned that although the possibility of having a larger site and selling back excess energy was considered, the study did not justify expanding the project. He emphasized that the solar panels are expected to have a lifespan of at least 25 years and will continue to generate a significant amount of energy even after 20 years of operation. By investing in solar energy projects, the city of Albert Lea is not only reducing its carbon footprint but also setting an example for sustainable practices in the community.

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