Last updated: September 06. 2013 5:56PM -

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Staff Writer

After structural engineering issues nixed a solar panel project on the Powell Municipal Building, city officials now have the OK on their alternative project: a solar panel carport, picnic shelter or one of each.

Powell City Manager Steve Lutz announced this week that the federal government gave the nod for the altered project.

The project now under council consideration involves constructing either two carports or one carport and a picnic-style shelter house with solar panels on top of each. The carport would be large enough to keep the Powell police cruisers sheltered from sun and snow, and a shelter house would provide shade in the park area adjacent to the municipal building near the splash pad.

The architect is in the final design phase and a final draft rendering of the proposed projects should be ready at a future operations committee meeting for review, city officials said.

The project is being funded by an $821,861 federal energy efficiency grant through the Ohio Department of Development, awarded to Powell in 2009.

Although the grant pays for the structures, Powell will foot the bill to make aesthetic improvements to accompany the city’s current theme.

Other activities being completed through the grant include changing out lights to a more energy efficient LED bulb and installing light sensors for cost-savings and improvements to the city’s municipal building at 47 Hall St. and the parks and recreation facility at 260 Village Park Drive.

“Once the lights are done, the final thing is to do the solar panels,” Lutz said.

The new solar panel project is expected to take four to six weeks and could potentially be constructed this winter or in the spring, Lutz said.

Powell Development Planner Eric Fischer proposed the original solar panel vision. However, once engineers started examining the municipal building’s roof, they determined that the solar panels would be too heavy without reinforcements, which would have been cost-prohibitive.

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