Could Kane County Be Dipping a ‘Paw’ Into Solar Power?
Kane County could be dipping its toe — or maybe its paw — into solar energy with a pilot program at the Kane County Animal Control building.
Speaking before the Public Health Committee on Wednesday, Kane County Resource Coordinator Cecilia Govrik laid out an energy efficiency plan that suggests Animal Control is very likely the best candidate for a solar-power experiment.
Under the plan, Kane County would lease solar panels that would be installed in the grassy area north of the Animal Control building located along Keslinger Road. The lease would extend for 300 months at a rate of $320 a month.
The savings in electric costs is projected at $5,381 for the first year. Over the course of the lease, the “cash gained” was estimated at $406,726.
Animal Control was chosen for the project for a number of reasons. It is one of the smaller buildings that Kane County manages and has some of the worst ratings for energy efficiency. It has the space for the solar panels and has a real need for efficient heating and cooling for its staff and the animals under its care.
County Board member Deborah Allan of Elgin said she is very excited about the pilot project.
“This is a way for us to get a toe in the water,” Allan said. “If we can get this started, I think we could work toward getting (solar panels for) some of our other buildings.”
Kane County Animal Control Director Brett Youngsteadt also was enthusiastic about taking part in a pilot program.
“This is something to make people go, ‘Hey! This is something new!’ We’re trying to increase what we’re giving back to the county. We like to do anything we can do to innovate and increase the visibility of Kane County.”
Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen, who sat in the Public Health Committee meeting, said he likes the idea and he agreed that Animal Control would be the right place to start a pilot program. He expressed a bit of concern, however, about the county making a commitment for a 300-month lease and suggested Finance Director Joe Onzick and others take a look at the proposed contract.
“I’m not at all worried that this is something that ‘has not ever been done before’ — that’s OK with me,” he said. “(But) it’s not just the typical situation, where you front the costs. You have a lease and a power payment against what we spend. … What I’m saying is, now that we’ve put together a presentation, let’s check all these assumptions.”
Govrik said the next steps are to establish a subcommittee to write a Request for Proposal, explore some sample proposals from other agencies and get some technical assistance from the Illinois Solar Association. After that, the county would establish the RFP language, accept the proposal, sign the lease and begin construction.
Kane County Board member Dr. Monica Silva, who chairs the Public Health Committee, thanked Govrik for her presentation and encouraged her to proceed.
“I’m excited bout this,” Silva said. “We’re leaders, we’re innovators. And it’s important for us to lead the way.”
Solar Pilot Project
- Immediate savings on Animal Control’s utility costs
- Environmental benefits and meeting County goals/commitments
- Public education: monitor in lobby/website info.
- Leadership in community and improved green image
- Committing to long-term lease for electricity, which has never been done before by Kane County
- Fence needed for safety/security; additional cost to Animal Control or Facilities Department? (might be able to include in lease contract)
- Minor maintenance (i.e. brushing off snow in winter)