116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - Municipal solar projects in Cedar Rapids and Hiawatha save taxpayers thousands of dollars each year, a new report from the Office of the State Auditor found.
Cedar Rapids' municipal solar projects save about $5,000 a year and are projected to save $100,000 over a 20-year period, the report said.
Hiawatha's solar project saves about $37,000 a year and is projected by the report to save $737,000 over 20 years.
The report, released late last week, randomly chose 27 public-sector solar projects across Iowa to feature. It said 80 communities in the state use such solar arrays to help power government facilities and buildings.
If every county, county seat and school district in the state had an average-sized solar project, the report says, it would save taxpayers $375 million over the lifetime of the projects.
Cedar Rapids has four solar installations it launched starting in 2016 under agreements with Eagle Point Solar of Dubuque. Under the arrangements, Eagle Point was responsible for paying for, installing, owning and maintaining the photovoltaic panel arrays. The city agreed to pay the company about a third less for the energy than it on average had paid Alliant Energy.
Three of the arrays are used to power nearby drinking water booster stations, which amplify the water pressure coming from the water treatment plant before the water reaches thousands of homes, businesses and fire hydrants.
That is in addition to an initial array on the roof of the transit garage at 427 Eighth St. NW.
Under the deals, Eagle Point owns and maintains the arrays for 25 years, after which ownership transfers to the city at little to no cost.
Cedar Rapids and Hiawatha indicated hearing little feedback from the public, but it has mostly been positive.
One project on the corner of Glass Road NE and Wenig Road NE received a complaint about the panels being unsightly, so Cedar Rapids planted trees around it.
The Independence Community School District, which was also surveyed, saves about $1,225 per year, the report says. Over 20 years, it's projected to save $25,000.
'We have several people in our community that are really pushing renewable energy and this is a source of pride for us,” the Independence school district said in the report.
State Auditor Rob Sand said the report highlights 'the good work government can do at the local level to save taxpayer money and help fight climate change.”
'What we've seen from installations that exist are very substantial savings for taxpayers,” Sand told The Gazette.
The report was part of the State Auditor's public innovations and efficiencies program.
'We are digging in and promoting ways for government entities to save money,” Sand said.
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