Supervisors move ahead with solar

Project at Little Wall Lake to proceed

The Hamilton County Board of Supervisors voted to move forward with a plan to place solar panels at Little Wall Lake following action at its meeting Tuesday morning.

The action followed the recommendation from Hamilton County Conservation Board to proceed with the plan to put a solar array near the campground at the park.

Larry Steffen, one of the owners of Eagle Point Solar, spoke with the board Tuesday.

“We are a construction company from Dubuque that builds nothing but solar arrays,” he said. “We build solar arrays 12 months out of the year.”

Steffen said he got in touch with Supervisor Doug Bailey about a year and a half ago, later meeting Brian Lammers, executive director of the Conservation Department. Steffen said his company then designed a solar array for the park, based on the energy needs.

The board had originally considered a solar project at the lake in 2015. The county ran into hurdles when it came to funding the power purchase agreement.

“We’ve had interest for some time in solar, but Little Wall Lake project was the one that came together the quickest because Alliant Energy has a net-metering policy,” said Supervisor David Young. With net-metering any power that is sent back to Alliant Energy will mean a full-kilowatt hour of credit which can be banked for later use.

“The concept of a power purchase agreement means that somebody else pays for the actual solar array and turns around and sells the power back to the receiving entity at a rate that is lower than they are currently paying,” Steffen said.

He said the issue with the funding was addressed in that Eagle Point Solar is completely funding the project. He added that the total project cost is about $300,000.

Steffen said his company had been in contact with County Attorney Pat Chambers to work on the contract languages.

“I don’t anticipate any issues with that,” he said.

The process from approval to completion will take 10 to 12 weeks to get the permits and approvals, he said, though the actual construction will only take five days. Steffen said it’s his intention to have the system up and running by April when the campground opens for the season.

The 360 solar panels will be installed north of the park house on the other side of the tree line.

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