FAIRBURY – The Fairbury City Council held a hearing Tuesday on the possibility of a solar panel field being built in the city.
Rich Andrysik, an engineer with the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN for short) presented information to the council on solar energy, and what it would cost for Fairbury if it were implemented.
“I’m not here to sell you on the solar proposal,” he said. “I’m here to answer questions.”
Andryski says he’s given the same presentation to Alliance, Sergeant Bluff IA, Pender, Stuart and West Point.
“By putting these towns together, we have a big enough project that we expect to get the price down,” Andrysik said. “If you go out by yourself, you’d pay a higher price we believe.”
Andrysik estimates it would cost Fairbury 5.9 cents per kilowatt hour if they joined the five other communities in this solar project.
However, Andrysik says it’s unlikely that any of the other towns he’s talked with will move forward with a solar field, mainly due to cost.
If Fairbury were to pursue a solar field on its own, it would cost the city about 6.3 cents per kilowatt hour.
Andrysik admits that adding solar would be an additional expense for the city, but could be a steady investment in the long haul.
“It’s going to cost more for quite awhile,” Andrysik said. “Some developers say ‘buy solar, and you get a steady rate for 25 years, but your electric prices from MEAN keep going up.’ Maybe MEAN will be more expensive in 25 years, but in the next 5-10, we’re not going to be.”
Andrysik says it’s possible that the price per kilowatt hour could come down in the next year or two.
The project would be a power-purchase agreement with GenPro Energy Solutions based out of Piedmont, South Dakota. They also have an office in Central City, NE.
Andrysik says Fairbury would have to increase its city budget by $13,000 in the project’s first year to accommodate a solar field. If built, it would take up about three acres in the Industrial Park area on the north end of town.
City administrator Colin Biesler says the field will give off about 300 kilowatt hours of energy, which is enough to power about 60 homes.
Fairbury’s bid date deadline is June 27, but that can be extended if need be. No action on the matter can be taken until the city council’s next meeting on June 18.
Bielser says he’s not totally opposed to the idea of bringing solar energy to Fairbury, but he believes it’s more of a “PR expense than anything.”
Other notes from city council
Biesler had some stats to share about the new swimming pool in Fairbury.
Since its grand opening on May, the Fairbury Aquatics Center has seen 3,532 visitors in eight days of business. From May 25-31, the pool made a profit of $12,150.
In 2017, the Fairbury pool made just under $21,000 for the entire summer.
The pool also had a ‘free swim day’ on Monday. It’s reported that more than 300 people turned out for that.
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