Clean energy ribbon cutting

Little Wall Lake Park solar array unveiled

Representatives with Eagle Point Solar, Hamilton County Conservation, Van Meter, and Hamilton County Supervisors were on hand for the solar array ribbon cutting at Little Wall Lake Park Saturday morning.

JEWELL – Little Wall Lake Park was filled with more than just campers Saturday morning. An open house and ribbon cutting were held to celebrate the completion of a series of solar array panels which are mounted at the north side of the park. The panels will provide electricity for the park.

According to Brian Lammers, Hamilton County Conservation director, Hamilton County is projected to save an estimated $6,000 per year at the park with the addition of solar energy measures.

“This is a project that we’ve been working on for the last three years or so. Basically, it’s designed that this will power the entire park,” said Lammers. “We are the first county park in Iowa to have such an array system producing our own energy so we can cut down on some of those electrical costs on a yearly basis.”

The project cost nearly $300,000.

The county began brainstorming ways to offset this cost nearly four years ago. The Hamilton County Board of Supervisors approved a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement with Eagle Point Solar, of Dubuque. The project is funded through the lease agreement.

Larry Steffen, Eagle Point Solar Vice President of Sales, speaks about the benefits the newly installed solar array will have on Little Wall Lake Park Saturday morning.

This project was made possible with partnerships with the Hamilton County Supervisors, Eagle Point Solar, Hamilton County Conservation Board, and Alliant Energy.

Lammers stressed that this project did not use any taxpayer dollars.

“There is no out-of-pocket cost to the county,” said Lammers.

Instead of the county paying Alliant Energy for their electrical usage, they will pay any usage due to Eagle Point Solar. Eagle Point Solar, a registered LLC, can receive tax credits for this and will in turn be paying Alliant Energy instead of the county directly paying Alliant Energy.

Eagle Point Solar partnered with Van Meter, who provided technical support, consulting, and materials for the project.

The array has an estimated 384 modules that will total 118,000 watts of power instantaneously. The modules are wired into the electrical distribution system for the park. Then instead of buying the power from Alliant Energy, the park will use the power it creates locally on the grid.

“We’re excited about it. We are the first county park in Iowa to have such a system. It’s been turned on for about 14 days now, so it’s already saving money.”

According to Lammers, Little Wall Lake Park can now lead by example when it comes to other organizations switching to clean energy practices.

“It sets an example for other municipalities and government agencies to look into this. Where they can save those tax paying dollars by offsetting some costs such as electrical,” said Lammers.

Eagle Point Solar Vice President of Sales, Larry Steffen noted numerous benefits to both the county and the park with the installation of this array.

“When you’re producing energy off of the solar array, obviously we talk about the environmental impact,” said Steffen, “and I think one of the greatest things about this solar array is that during the day and during the summer it produces a lot of electricity and that’s exactly when this park uses their electricity because of the campsites and cabins that are here.”

Steffen explained that the park’s high consumption of electricity during the busy summer season will be offset by the amount of sun taken in by the solar arrays.

The county hopes to place a live feed of the solar array production in the near future on the mycountyparks.com website.

“There is a live feed showing what our production is and that will be made available down the road at an informational kiosk we intend to set out here,” Lammers said.

“The solar industry is growing by leaps and bounds,” said Steffin. “Our company is a classic example of that.”

To learn more about the array visit www.mycountyparks.com.