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Library board looking into solar power

New roof also needed for 19-year-old building

SOLON– Solon’s library board is exploring a new roof and the possibility of utilizing solar energy.
According to Library Director Kris Brown, the board met in January with representatives of Moxie: America’s Solar Company, of North Liberty, regarding options through a third-party lease.
The topic is on the board’s agenda for upcoming meetings, Brown told members of the Solon City Council during a March 4 meeting.
Brown said the Moxie presentation focused on a program for government buildings which utilizes a third party to buy solar panels, install them and then lease the array back to the city with no capital costs to the municipality.
At the end of the 15-year lease, the library would have the option to buy the equipment or continue the lease, she said.
Public Works Director Scott Kleppe sat in on the first few meetings, Brown told council members.
The library board is continuing to gather information, she noted. Mason City’s library pursued solar panels through Moxie and were “thrilled” with the results, she added.
Moxie also partnered with the City of North Liberty on a series of solar arrays to power municipal buildings in 2016. A 240-panel ground array generates 100 percent of the electricity needed for the streets department building, producing 90,000-kilowatt hours annually. Another 60-panel array feeds the parks department, while a separate array powers the North Liberty fire station. North Liberty City Administrator Ryan Heiar said utilizing the solar system would result in over $350,000 savings to the city over the 25-year guaranteed life of the panels.
Before solar panels could be added to the Solon library, however, Brown said it is likely a new roof will be needed.
The library building is 19 years old, she explained, and Kleppe obtained one quote of $190,000 for a metal replacement.
Brown said the library is exploring options and could potentially find a lower bid.
“We aren’t very far along in the process,” she noted. “We’ll just keep you updated as we go.”
Kleppe explained the solar panels would be mounted on the library’s roof.
“I wouldn’t recommend putting solar panels up if, within five or 10 years, they’ve got to come back off in order to do the roof,” he observed.