August 13, 2011
Instead of solar panels on Powell’s municipal building, officials are considering a solar panel carport, picnic shelter or both. The former project was nixed due to structural engineering issues.
Development Planner Eric Fischer, who originally had the vision for solar panels on Powell’s municipal building at 47 Hall St., said that using the technology can still be a reality, but approvals are required from the state’s Department of Development (ODOD).
The project is being funded by an $821,861 federal energy efficiency grant through ODOD, awarded to Powell in 2009.
Once engineers started looking at the municipal building’s roof, they determined that the solar panels would be too heavy without reinforcements. That option would be too expensive and a hassle to build reinforcements for the panels, Fischer said.
“When we looked at what to do to brace the roof, it started to get complicated really fast,” Fischer said.
The alternative idea now under consideration is to construct either two carports or one carport and a picnic-style shelter house with solar panels. The carport would 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.
“Each are a value-added benefit to the city,” Fischer said.
Preliminary feedback from the state seems positive, he said.
Powell City Council will still need to decide which configuration it would like to see go forward — the two carports or a carport and a shelter.
Although the grant pays for the structure itself, it doesn’t pay for any aesthetic-type improvements that the city might want to make to match Powell’s current theme.
Once approval comes through from the state, the project will only take about four to six weeks, Fischer said. The project could still potentially be finished by the end of the year, he said.
“This option overall is better,” Fischer said. “This is a value-added component, so residents can see what we’ve been able to do.”
Other energy efficient activities being done through the grant include changing out lights to LED and installing light sensors for cost-savings and improvements to the city’s parks and recreation facility at 260 Village Park Drive.