116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
JOHNSON COUNTY - Johnson County Supervisors have taken steps unprecedented for that county for a 10-year agreement that opens the door for energy tax credits for the operator of a solar array.
'It is a new venture for the county,” said Andy Johnson, executive assistant to the Board of Supervisors. 'There are tax breaks for using solar which don't do public entities any good because we don't pay any taxes.”
Basically, Moxie Solar would install the solar array proposed for the top of the county's roughly $3.6 million Secondary Roads Facility at 4810 Melrose Ave. and take advantage of available tax credits.
Meanwhile, the county buys the electricity produced by the solar array from the company - avoiding the more than $300,000 associated with buying the solar array outright.
Moxie Solar would own and maintain the solar array.
Proposed as a 10-year PPA, the county would pay Moxie Solar $. 0975 per kilowatt-hour for the first year, with the rate increasing by 3 percent annually. The county would have the option buy the array at fair market value after 10 years, said Josh Busard, assistant planner with the Johnson County Planning and Zoning Department.
While the county's electricity bill will increase by more than $3,000 that first year - and climb to about $4,000 the 10th year - on year 11, the county is projected to see a savings of nearly $18,000 in its annual electricity bill.
After 25 years, the county would see close to $285,000 in savings.
One a week
In two short years, North Liberty's Moxie Solar has grown from a few employees and a work truck to a 16-person operation with plans of more expansion next year.
With a finance degree from University of Northern Iowa, Jason Hall, Moxie Solar's chief executive officer, spent years in banking.
But having grown up spending much of his time outdoors, Hall decided to change his focus to the environment and in 2008 created Greenhall Industries, which performed energy audits for companies.
A growing influence in 2012 and 2013 by the Iowa Legislature to increase solar tax credits prompted Hall to shift gears again - this time to the direct installation of solar arrays for residential, agricultural and commercial use.
'Overnight we went from Greenhall Industries to Moxie Solar,” Hall recalled. 'Honestly we just haven't looked back since that time.”
Now averaging one new installation each week, Moxie Solar is anticipating doubling its staff in 2015, Hall said.
Earlier this year the Johnson County Board of Supervisors was tasked with selecting one of three solar companies to begin negotiating a PPA. The options were Moxie Solar, Dubuque's Eagle Point Services and Sigourney's Atwood Electric.
Moxie Solar was selected for the company's installation cost, proposed energy output and its local presence.
'I always try to lean on local vendors when we can, and I think that was a big part of leaning on Moxie as well,” Supervisor Terrence Neuzil said.
The solar array is projected to produce more than 170,000 kWh annually, which is what officials expect the efficiently designed Secondary Roads Facility to consume.
”It's going to be so energy efficient that, in conjunction with this proposed solar array, that building will use no or very little grid-source electricity,” the Planning Department's Busard said.
The new building, which replaces the former facility that was destroyed by fire, is expected to be completed this year.
For a county government that long has focused on sustainability, Neuzil said entering the solar realm was a natural next step in leading by example.
'I think it's important that governments ought to be a leader in looking at ways to showcase ...,
if we can do it, so can you,” he said.