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April 16, 2021

3/25/2021 11:21:00 AM
Supervisors enter into solar agreement with WPL

The roof of the new Law Enforcement Center is being considered for a massive solar project and WPL is the main suitor.
The rental generated from WPL would be $272,820 over 20 years with three renewals possible. The county has a solar project of its own on top of the HHS building.
"How much return would we get if we owned the panels?" asked Supervisor Ron Benish.
"Is the rate negotiable after 20 years?" asked another supervisor.
If one re-roofing takes place the panels would be removed at the expense of WPL. A second re-roof would be a shared expense.
WPL representative Zack Hill said there is a cost with putting the panels on the roof and the total expense would be with the company.
"There is no tax advantage to the county to own the panels," said Chairman John Meyers. "WPL can buy wholesale where we would not be able to do that."
Peterson asked if WPL has interest in land based solar also.
"We would take a look at it," Hill said.
He also noted the energy generated would be used locally.
The board approved the lease on a 15-4 vote.
A broadband expansion grant from Bug Tussel was proposed to the board.
"Will this tie our hands for future agreements elsewhere?" asked supervisor Gollon.
"It does not tie your hands but there are fiber lines that are for county use and it would not be fair to lease them to their competition," said the county's corporate counsel.
"The plus is getting internet where it is not available now," said Meyers.
The entire county would not be connected and to do that would have a price tag of $50 million dollars, explained County Administrator Larry Bierke. He expects some government grants to become available to help with future coverage.
"Bug Tussel has said the internet usage has exceeded its expectations already," Bierke said.
The board voted to proceed with the agreement with Bug Tussel on an 18-1 vote.
Bierke said the county will be receiving funds for COVID relief that the board will have to determine how it is used. Part of it could be used for broadband.
Under the chairman's report Meyers noted the meeting time will move to 7 p.m. in April for summer hours. He also told the board there will be some state meetings he will be attending.
Sheriff Steve Michek discussed the problem COVID has caused with moving inmates from county jails to prisons. He also discussed some state programs that will affect the jail population, keeping more people incarcerated.
Katie Abbott, County Conservationist, told the board about an award presented to Dan Nankey as an outstanding conservationalist....
(See the rest of this story in the March 18, 2021 Chronicle issue)

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