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Woodbury Council considers solar system at public safety building

The public safety building and Woodbury City Hall will soon have one more thing in common -- energy efficiency.

City officials are exploring plans for a 40kW solar system to be installed on the roof over the parking garage of the public safety building located on Radio Drive.

"It's a good opportunity because of the ability to reduce our electrical consumption, and there are some good incentives in terms of rebates associated with the program that we can take advantage of that makes it cost effective," said parks and recreation director Bob Klatt.

A more efficient geothermal system was added to the building as part of last year's expansion project. The building was expanded by more than 21,000 square feet from the original 35-year-old construction.

The solar system project is currently in the beginning stages and a final cost amount has yet to be determined.

"If it looks like it's feasible and affordable then we will recommend to the council installing it," Klatt said, adding that if the council approves it, installation will be slated for later this summer.

But so far, city officials know the system would generate about 15 percent of the electricity needed to operate the building, which would result in a corresponding decrease in the electrical cost paid to Xcel Energy.

If approved, Parsons Electric would be responsible for the installation as well as the monitoring of the 40kW system. The company would also guarantee the city a set amount of energy savings.

A preliminary analysis indicates the total cost to the city would be $54,500 for the system, payable in $5,400 installments over five years, according to a council memo. The payments are broken down to qualify for a federal solar energy tax credit and to correspond with the payments of the Xcel Energy solar rebates.

The payback on this project would be about 10 years, according to the initial study.

Klatt said the city has been working to drive energy costs down in almost every building, including city hall when it was expanded in 2007 and Bielenberg Sports Center.

"And it shows we're spending less money now than we have in the past several years," he said.

Bielenberg Sports Center shows a tremendous savings of 75 percent less gas consumption after a geothermal project was done in February of last year. Meanwhile, city hall is now absorbing about the same amount of energy as it was prior to the expansion.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.