Construction of a solar project in parking lots of city buildings is well under way and is on track to be completed by Nov. 30, City Manager Charlie Cassens said this week.
About three weeks ago, contractors with Lake Havasu City Solar, LLC, the third party investor that will own the project, started work in the City Hall parking lot at 2330 N. McCulloch Blvd. Council members approved the long-term solar energy supply project back in June.
This week, contractors with Resolute, of Phoenix, were busy putting the photovoltaic cells in place on steel structures in the City Hall parking lot. The work is furthest along in the City Hall parking lot, Cassens said.
Some residents have asked the city about the project, but haven’t complained about the limited parking locations at City Hall while the work is going on, Cassens said.
“We’ve had a few calls from people that weren’t aware (of the project) in the first place,” Cassens said. “It’s a project that will benefit the city.”
The solar energy plan is part of a 20-year agreement that calls for the solar panels at City Hall, the Aquatic Center, the city maintenance yard on London Bridge Road and the Police Facility.
Lake Havasu City Solar would sell the solar generated power back to the city at a negotiated price.
Charges for the energy begin at a price under what the city pays UniSource and it climbs no more than two percent each year, according to a city release. That makes budgeting of the city’s energy costs more stable, Cassens said in the release.
But actual savings is unknown because of uncertainty on future rate increases by the electric utility, according to the release. But city officials estimated based on historic averages that the project could end up saving the city between $500,000 and $1.2 million or more in energy costs during the life of the agreement.
“The deal struck with Lake Havasu City Solar is unique in that we were able to negotiate energy at a price less than (other cities with solar energy agreements),” Cassens said.
The city is anticipating that the sun’s energy will provide between 30 to 60 percent or more of the electricity needed at those city facilities for about 20 years, according to a city release.
At the end of the 20-year agreement, the city can purchase the equipment, which has a 25-year warranty, or reject the purchase and the owner will be required to remove the equipment at their own expense.
McAtlin Electric is one the project’s contractors, but Councilman David McAtlin is not a part of that company. He works for Sam Nichols Electric.
Since the city does not own the project, it does not control the contractors selected for the work, said City Attorney Kelly Garry.
Solar energy is the final part of a number of energy conservation steps and upgrades that the city has made in the past several years, Cassens said in the release.
High tech lighting, motion sensors, computer controlled environmental systems and upgrades in air conditioning and heating have also been done, according to the release.
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