Union to vote on purchase of solar panels

Mon, 11/04/2019 - 12:45pm

UNION — The Town of Union will vote Nov. 5 on whether to purchase solar panels for use within the town. 

Below is more information from the Town’s website:

The town select board has researched the feasibility of installing a solar panel array in town to produce electricity for our municipal usage. After considering presentations from several solar installers, the board has voted to contract with Montana Solar, a Union-based company with years of experience in municipal solar design and installation.

Pending voter approval in November, Union will be poised to join the transition towards sustainable, affordable and clean electric power.

Solar is now cheaper than buying power from the grid, as solar costs have decreased by 60% since 2010 and are expected to decrease further. Meanwhile, electricity rates are on the rise. With a commitment to solar, our electricity rates will essentially be "fixed" at today's dollar value. When Union generates electricity with solar, the cost savings will stay in town and can be invested in other worthwhile community projects.

The projected initial plan is to install a 128 solar panel array on the new public works building. Each panel generates 355 watts, so this will provide 45,440 watts of power, which will supply the needs of the town office complex, the public works buildings and the recreational areas such as the tennis and basketball courts. The system is expected to last 25 years or more and require minimal maintenance.

The installed cost of the system will be roughly $70,000 and at current electricity rates, the payback period for this investment will be just 10 years. This dividend in "free electricity" will be used for maintenance and replacement costs, as well as benefiting our municipal budget and saving taxpayers' dollars.

This "forward-thinking" project will help Union become part of a new energy economy. We all know it's important to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels and reduce our carbon-based emissions. We all know it's better to produce what we need right here, independently and sustainably. If we vote to approve this solar project, Union will move towards the future with affordable, sustainable and clean "homegrown" electricity.