Council to consider agreement for solar panels

30-year deal could save the city $2 million in utility costs


FORT MADISON – The Fort Madison City Council is going to consider installing solar panels at nine different facilities to save about $20,000 a year out of the gate.

City Manager David Varley is recommending the discussion of a 30-year agreement with Red Lion Renewables out of Norwalk, Iowa.

Under the proposal, Red Lion would install and own all the solar panels and equipment, and the city would agree to purchase electricity from Red Lion for three decades.

Varley said the price of the electricity through Red Lion would be lower than what the city currently pays per kilowatt hour. Red Lion would take advantage of current solar tax credits and then pass some of the savings from the credits on to the city.

Mohrfeld Solar of Fort Madison would be contracted by Red Lion to install the equipment on the city facilities, according to owner Michael Mohrfeld.

Mohrfeld has a history with Red Lion, including installations on Lee County property and at Southeastern Community College and other regional work.

Solar panels would be added at City Hall, on the city’s Water Tower, Ortho Way Sewer Booster, Riverview Drive Sewer Booster, Avenue G Water Booster, Sheriff Station Water booster, the Fort Madison Airport Office, the Library, and at Shopton Park.

Over the span of the 30-year agreement, Varley calculated the city would save $1.7 million. An option was considered where the city would purchase the equipment after 15 years which would increase the savings to the city to about $2 million.

There would be no up-front costs for the equipment or installation as Red Lion covers the installation costs as part of the agreement. The rate to Red Lion would increase at 2.5% per year, and Varley wrote he assumes a variable 4% increase in costs per year with the current providers.

Other agenda items for Tuesday’s City Council meeting include:
• consideration of the second reading of an ordinance creating the Vacant Building Registration chapter of city code.
• consideration of a final reading of an amendment to city code reflecting changes to the city wards and precincts per Iowa Secretary of State’s office changes.

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