Government

Cedar Rapids bus barn getting solar panels

Plan would save money and move toward clean energy

solar panels
solar panels

CEDAR RAPIDS — A 90 kilowatt solar array will be installed on the Cedar Rapids northwest transit bus garage, after Cedar Rapids City Council approved a contract on Tuesday.

Eagle Point Energy-4, LLC, of Dubuque, will provide and own the solar photovoltaic system on the roof of the 30,216 square foot bus facility, 427 Eighth Street NW.

“This is clean, renewable energy with modest investment,” said Eric Holthaus, Cedar Rapids sustainability program manager. “This is a chance for the city to learn by doing.”

The company would then sell energy generated by the panels to the city at a rate that is projected to save $38,000 over 25 years. The project is also eligible for state and federal tax credits, Holthaus said.

The bigger win is reducing the city’s carbon footprint and thinking long term about the city’s energy plan, officials said.

“I think this is the right thing to do,” said Ralph Russell, a city council member. “I support more of this in Cedar Rapids.”

The energy rate would be 8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour and that escalates 2 percent per year. By comparison the current energy bill through Alliant Energy has averaged 11.5 cents per kilowatt-hour and a 3 percent rate increase per year, said Brent Schlotfeldt, of the city maintenance department.

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The system will be designed to produce 125,000 kilowatt-hours per year, which is enough to support 11 homes or 62 percent of the facility’s annual energy use of 200,342 kilowatt-hours per year.

Construction is slated to begin in early May.

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