Solar savings — Rogers to tap power of sun

by Dawn Feddersen-Poindexter

Contributing Writer

 

The Rogers City Council agreed to sign a letter of intent authorizing TenKsolar to proceed with preliminary planning to add solar panels to several City buildings.

The Council had heard from representatives from Bloomington-based company and its partner in the project, Ameresco, about how the companies would utilize solar panel rebates and tax credits to outfit City facilities with solar panels at no upfront cost to the City. Rogers would then enter into an agreement to purchase the power obtained from the panels for a term of seven years at a rate estimated to be 20% less than what they are currently paying Xcel Energy.

“We’re either going to buy energy created on site or buy energy from Xcel. Either way, it’s something we have to do,” said Public Works Superintendent, John Seiffert.

At the end of the seven years, Rogers would have the option to buy the equipment and reap its energy-producing benefits for its 25 or more years of expected life.

TenKsolar has proposed to outfit the Fire Station and Community Room, the Public Works/City Hall building, the Rogers Activity Center, and possibly Rogers Wine and Spirits. City staff is considering their own project utilizing solar energy rebates that may create triple the energy by adding more solar panels to the Rogers Activity Center.

Councilmember Rick Ihli said, “It’s our job not only to handle things now but to look to the future and put Rogers in a good position to save some money. As elected officials, that’s our number one concern.”

Ihli said the switch is especially timely because of word they’ve received that Xcel Energy is planning to increase their rates by 10%.

But Councilmember Rob Bell, who did not seek re-election, wanted to make his apprehensions with the project known in light of the fact that he will no longer be on the Council as the project takes shape.

“I’m not a financial guy, I’m not a solar guy, but something strikes me as too good to be true here. Somewhere there’s going to be a cost that was not anticipated. I ask staff to dig in deeply to anticipate what those future costs will be,” he cautioned.

The Council also heard from two local commercial real estate owners seeking sign standards adjustments. They approved a non-conforming illuminated sign at Rogers Downtown Plaza that was a part of negotiations with the property’s owner, Chuck Van Heel, for his cooperation in giving the City some easements and property rights to help complete the CR81 realignment project.

They denied a request by 101 Marketplace for a non-conforming sign on the back of the building for their tenant, Massage Envy, telling the owner that his sign would likely be approved if he pursued the matter as a change to the Planned Unit Development agreement.

  • Chris Reilly

    Mr. Bell is right. There is a cost to these solar panels. Nothing is free. And make no mistake, solar panel companies are in the business of making money. The solar rebates and credits used by the solar company is also part of the rate increase of 10% cited by Councilman Ihli. Utility companies are happy to offer those rebates, because when they go to the Public Utilities Commission and ask to raise rates…they say “Well… we spent all this money investing on green energy” …that expense gets passed right on to the rate payer. In addition, we don’t exactly live in the Sahara here in Minnesota, we don’t even see the sun for most of the winter. Not to mention we have the occasional hail storm here. I’m sure they won’t survive that. Hope those puppies are insured. Plus they will need maintenance, they won’t put out as many Kilo-watts as advertised, and the inverters will have to be replaced. Also, past rate increases approved by the PUC have also been much lower.

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