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Mason City council approves solar development services for new arena, wastewater treatment plant, airport

MASON CITY — The City Council in Mason City last night approved a contract with a Dubuque company for solar development services for the multi-purpose arena as well as the city’s wastewater treatment plant and airport. Blue Sky Solar submitted the most competitive proposal, which will likely provide over $2 million in savings over a 25-year period.

City Administrator Aaron Burnett says the power purchase agreement between the city and Blue Sky Solar is done since the city cannot capture the tax credits offered by the federal government for solar power installations.  “So by going through an investor arrangement where you’re actually purchasing power off the installation from them, they’re able to capture that and then the city is actually able to utilize that to its benefit. In the end it does create a result that produces a great benefit for the taxpayers and a reduction in carbon footprint.”

Burnett says there is no cost for the city to purchase and install the solar equipment.  “The power purchase agreement says that they will essentially create this installation, and then we commit to buying that power from them once they put the installation in place. The proposal has the cost for the per kilowatt-hour listed in it, and that’s what we’re committing to. Really, the only time you could see up a possible lose scenario here is if you actually thought power was going to go considerably cheaper than it is today over the next 25 years, and I don’t believe we’re going to see that.”

Burnett says by the city not owning the equipment, it means the city doesn’t have to worry about maintenance either.  “Just knowing my limitations and staff limitations and expertise on a solar installation, I think that this is really a great model for ensuring that we’re operating in our core competency and not trying to do something we might not know how to do very well. So by bringing Kinect Energy on and having them do the RFP process, and having those maintenance costs rolled into the installation, again that just takes us out of the picture when it’s something that’s not our strength.”

The solar power developments are scheduled to start next spring.



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