The city of Perry could save almost $5 million on its electricity bills and reduce its carbon footprint to zero under a proposal by Norwalk-based Red Lion Renewables to install an array of solar panels and carport canopies on or around 10 city buildings.
Under the proposed power purchase agreement, the city would buy its electricity from Red Lion at a rate lower than that charged by Alliant Energy, the city’s current energy provider. There would be no up-front cost to the city to build the solar system.
The Perry City Council will consider moving ahead with the project at its Monday night meeting at 6 p.m. in the upstairs conference room of the Towncraft building. Council meetings are open to the public and also accessible via Zoom.
“Under the power purchase agreement, we will be paying Red Lion for the power it produces, which will be less than what we pay Alliant,” said Perry City Administrator Sven Peterson. “This will provide a savings. In year six and beyond — after investors get their tax credits — we have the option to buy the system.”
The city stands to save between $2.7 million and $4.8 million over the 30-year life of the system, with an option to buy the solar array outright anytime after the fifth year for about $1.2 million or less. The rooftop solar panels or solar carport canopies would be installed at the following city properties:
- City Hall, 1102 Willis Ave.
- Police/Fire Department, 908 Willis Ave.
- Library, 1101 Willis Ave.
- Carnegie Library, 1123 Willis Ave.
- Towncraft, 1124 Willis Ave.
- Recycle Building, 14323 Ivy Place
- Caboose Park, First and Willis Avenue
- Public Works North Shop, W. Fourth Street
- Public Works Shop Shop, W. Fourth Street
- McCreary Community Building, 1800 Pattee St.
Altogether, the solar system would generate 102.2% of the green energy needed to power the 10 city sites.
Some of the solar panels would be largely unseen rooftop installations on city buildings, but the Red Lion Renewables design also includes some highly visible features, such as two solar carport canopies and a “solar pavilion” in the city hall parking lot and a carport canopy co-located next to the Perry Public Library.
The largest single installation would be an array of solar panels that covers much of the roof surface of the McCreary Community Building, with an additional five canopies over a nearby portion of the bike path.
The solar system would not only save the city millions in energy costs but would “create a highly visible marquis demonstration near downtown Perry as well as on the bike path by the McCreary Center,” according to Terry Dvorak, Red Lion Renewables CEO. “With effectively 100% of your current energy coming from renewable sources for these 10 facilities, you will be a leading community in reducing the impact of greenhouse gas emissions and be close to meeting your goals of a net-zero community.”
When the zero greenhouse emissions from the Red Lion project are added to the renewable energy credits (RECs) that the city will gain from its partnership with Alliant Energy on the solar energy array soon to be built on the brownfield area, Perry will reach its net-zero sustainability goals.
“Between this project and Alliant’s solar project that we will own the RECs from, we should be offsetting 100% of our electric use of city-owned buildings,” Peterson said. “We will do a final calculation with updated numbers.”
The Red Lion Renewables array will also accommodate the future integration of battery storage or car-charging stations for further energy resiliency, placing Perry among the state’s leaders in green innovation, he said.