Ballwin Expands Solar Projects, Launches Online Energy-Tracker

The Ballwin Council moves forward with plans to install solar panels atop The Pointe, and the city launches a new website tracking the energy created by the Government Center rooftop.

The Ballwin City Council agreed this week to seek out solar panels for this spring, pending a state grant application.

If completed on time, the panels would be installed within six months of Ballwin's at the Government Center, where panels were activated in December.

Installation of the "photovoltaic solar array" on the Government Center cost roughly $39,500, approximately $19,500 of which was paid for with federal and local grants, including money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

On Monday, the city council agreed to pursue plans for another "solar array" primarily paid by a state grant that stipulates an August 2012 project completion deadline.

City Administrator Bob Kuntz suggested the council opt to continue using Heartland Alternative Energy as the city's application source and project monitor, given that acquiring the grants is an extensive process.

“We are up against the wall," Kuntz said. "We didn’t have a lot of notice on this, but if we’re going to move forward, we would need to submit the application before the Jan 31 deadline."

Code Enforcement Manager Jerry Klein said the new solar panels will be a 40 kilowatt system, opposed to the 8.2 kilowatt “solar array” above the Government Center.

“It’s not going to take care of all the needs of The Pointe at Ballwin Commons, but I would say probably in the area of five percent,” Klein said of the expected rate of return.

Mueller said a five percent rate is low, but various other factors come into play when projecting savings.

“Having the solar panels on top of the roof will also drastically cut down on your demand from the energy usage of the air conditioning units,” Mueller said. “That is actually pretty substantial also."

Also this week, the city announced a new website dedicated to tracking the energy produced by the panels atop the Government Center. Klein said the panels' energy output has been minimal, but noted that winter typically marks a low point for production.

If the new grant application gets approved, the state "Special Community Initiatives" funds sought by Heartland Alternative Energy would be worth $150,000. Included in Heartland's contract with the city would be a requirement to obtain rebates from Ameren Missouri estimated at $50,000.

“So the rate of the return of this project is well within the grant-specified timeline of 10 years," Mueller said.

Between the grant and the rebate, Mueller said all funds the city "fronts" to the contractor will be reimburse through the state or through Ameren.

“And considering Ameren has the funds established for the solar rebate, the city has a zero rate of return.”

Responses to the state grant are expected in February or March, with potential installation of the solar panels at The Pointe as early as April.


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