Solar panels at landfill, rec. park could generate revenue for county

Published 7:08 pm Thursday, March 18, 2010

The company interested in installing solar panels at Polk Countys transfer station is also asking to install panel structures over parking lots at the countys recreation park in Mill Spring.
The Polk County Board of Commissioners and heard a presentation at their regular meeting Monday from Rod Beard, Business Development Vice President of American Solar Integrators, out of Cornelius, N.C.
Beard estimated that the county could receive $14,250 for the first year revenue for panels at the transfer station and $16,275 for the first year at the recreation park.
American Solar Integrators is seeking a 20-year contract with the county with revenues increasing two percent every year to the county.
It would cost the county nothing to lease the property, Beard said.
“At the end of the day you have zero cash invested,” Beard told commissioners. “We are fully insured; we do all the maintenance.”
Commissioners decided to think about the proposal and said they will consider a 90-day non-binding letter of intent next month. Commissioners did express concern over how the county would maintain the transfer station property. The panels are being considered to go on the former landfill property at the transfer station off Hwy. 9 in Mill Spring.
The county is required by the state to maintain the cap that was placed on the landfill. Beard said American Solar Integrators would have to be permitted and whatever needs to be done for the county to maintain it will be done. Commissioners also expressed some concern over the aesthetics of tressils over parking lots at the recreation park.
County board chair Cindy Walker asked if the company would still be interested in Polk County if the county only wanted to place the panels at the landfill. Beard responded, “a little bit.”
Walker then said the parking lots are hot and trellises over them might be “strange to look at” but at least it would serve a purpose other than heating up a parking lot in that they would provide shade.
Commissioners decided to contact other counties in states that have panels and trellises to weigh the pros and cons.
“Daddy always said if it sounds too good to be true, its too good to be true,” said commissioner Tommy Melton.
Beard said solar panels are now economically feasible in North Carolina because of federal and now North Carolina tax credits offered for solar energy.
Installing panels in Polk County would cost about $6 million.

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