The city of Washington will undergo a solar energy analysis to determine if solar energy could save the city money in energy costs.
Representatives of Syndicated Solar, Levi Thompson, business development representative, and Don Loughridge, senior solar sales consultant, made a presentation to the city council Tuesday night.
The company, which is an Ameren Missouri trade ally network, uses solar photovoltaic systems to create energy for homes and businesses.
“We let the sun eliminate (a person or city’s) electric bill,” Loughridge said.
Panels are attached to a building and solar energy is converted into usable electric through a power inverter.
Energy that is not used goes through a bi-directional meter and feeds back on to the power grid, Loughridge explained.
Extra energy produced by the solar panels goes back into the grid to feed nearby buildings power needs.
Later on, when the municipality is using more power than the solar panels are producing, it receives credit for the excess power that it produced that day.
Loughridge said solar energy is feasible because there are many government incentives and state-mandated renewable energy targets.
The city doesn’t realize tax credits like a resident would, so Syndicated Solar has set up an energy service agreement.
The company will audit the city and see how much energy the city uses on each account. Then, for no money out-of-pocket, the solar system can be installed on various buildings. The city would enter into a service agreement at that time.
Ameren limits the size per meter to a 25-kilowatt system.
Syndicated Solar is part of 24-for-1 — 24 municipalities that are working together to become more green.
“What we’re able to do is put these solar systems on each one of the meters in the city, then we charge them for the electricity that our systems produce,” Loughridge said.
The rate is lower than that of typical utility companies, he said.
“Every year, the cost of energy goes up on the national level about 6.5 percent . . . over the past five years, Ameren has raised your rates 8.5 percent,” he said. “They tried to get 14 percent last year and ended up with 10 percent.”
While Ameren has some of the lowest rates in the country, Loughridge said, prices will continue to increase.
A packet given to the city council showed that Venita Park, in St. Louis County, will save more than $60,000 on energy costs over a 20-year period.
An energy service agreement between Syndicated Solar and the city would allow the city to lock in a certain rate per kilowatt hour, thus allowing instant and long-term savings.
The amount of savings will be better known after the audit.
If the system is approved and installed, Syndicated Solar would maintain the system for the full 20 years. After that, the city could have the system removed for free, extend the lease or buy the system.
Mark Hidritch, council member, asked how Ameren would benefit from the agreement.
Loughridge said that Ameren is mandated by the state that by the year 2020, 15 percent of its energy must come from clean energy, with 2 percent carved out for photovoltaic electricity.
Ameren also saves in transportation costs when energy is fed back to the grid and dispersed to nearby locations.
Jeff Patke, council member, was concerned about the number of panels and how appealing it would look.
Loughridge said the key is to put the systems on the roof, but there are other options for placing the panels.
“We identify not only where all the meters are, but what would be the best place to put the panels that are the least intrusive to the city and the facilities,” Loughridge said.
Once the audit is completed, a report will be given to the council for further review.
Syndicated Solar, which founded in Grand Junction, Colo., is headquartered in Denver, Colo., and has a regional office in Missouri.