The courthouse and the law enforcement center can save taxpayers’ dollars to the tune of approximately 27% of their current electricity bills, if they opt to install solar panels on the roofs of their respective buildings.
The board of supervisors and the Bremer-Waverly Law Enforcement Board got the Reader’s Digest version of an education in the advantages of solar energy during a 30-minute presentation by Larry Steffen, VP of sales for Eagle Point Solar, a privately-held company headquartered in Dubuque.
Eagle Point Solar, which, Steffen said has found its niche in catering to smaller projects, has built about 800 solar arrays in Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois, including the one at the CUNA Mutual campus in Waverly.
Showing the group a preliminary report on what the scope and the savings of such a decision might entail, Steffen played out the scenario: If 188 solar panels were installed on the courthouse roof, the county’s current annual bill of $31,439 would decrease by approximately $9,000, he estimated.
Likewise, if the law center were to adopt the same action plan, its annual bill of $36,593 would go down by $9,500.
To reach this level of savings, they would have to put in $295,000 in investment, which can be paid in cash, bonds or a power purchase agreement with Eagle Point Solar.
Under this agreement, the company will pay and own the solar array for 25 years, which is exactly the amount of time the solar panels they install are warrantied for.
In year 26, the law enforcement and the courthouse can purchase for $1,000 each their respective arrays, which have a life expectancy of 45 years.
Steffen told the two boards that the power purchase agreement became possible in Iowa in 2014, following an Iowa Supreme Court decision in which the state’s highest court ruled in Eagle Point Solar’s favor, affirming that such funding mechanisms, which are common in other states, are legal in Iowa.
Steffen answered questions from the boards after his presentation.
Most wondered about the logistics of the roof installation and if the installation might cause leaks.
Steffen said that his engineers evaluate the condition of the roof as a first step.
“It does not make sense to install a solar array on a roof that needs to be replaced in a year,” he said.
Dan McKenzie, the Ward 2 Waverly City Councilman and also a member of the law enforcement board, who works at CUNA Mutual, was asked about the performance of the solar garden there.
“We have had zero problems with it, and they are seeing results,” he said.
Steffen, the VP, told Waverly Newspapers afterwards he was pleased he was able to make a presentation to the boards, at the invitation of Supervisor Tim Neil.
“I am looking forward to working with these boards as they evaluate the viability of these projects,” Steffen said.