The Twisp Town Council is considering whether to install solar arrays at three city-owned properties. Solar panels installed near the wastewater treatment plant and the town’s two water wells would power those facilities and reduce the town’s electricity costs.
Council learned details of the proposal on Sept. 24 from representatives of the energy consulting firm Apollo Solutions Group.
While the town could save about $15,000 a year on electricity, the three solar arrays would cost more than $1 million to install. The town would need to secure state Department of Commerce grants, which cover two-thirds of the project cost, Scott Lewis of Apollo told the council.
The next round of Commerce grants will be awarded in 2020.
The solar arrays would only be used to power pumps at the two wells and the wastewater treatment plant. The array connected to the wastewater facility would be mounted on the roof of the town’s Public Works shop, which is next to the plant.
Apollo proposed other energy- and cost-saving measures at the council meeting, including a new variable-speed pump motor at one of the wells. Rather than being always fully on, the motor could run at lower speeds in times of low demand. Apollo estimates this would reduce electricity use at the well by $2,100 to $2,600 a year.
Finally, Apollo recommended the city replace its old water meters with a newer generation of more accurate meters—a process the town has already begun. If the town acquires a grant to replace about 350 meters all at once, rather than gradually over the next decade or so, the town would realize an additional $89,000 in revenue, according to Apollo. Much of that would come from fixing leaks at the old meters.
Many of the meters in the ground now at individual homes and businesses are 30 to 35 years old, Public Works Director Andrew Denham said.
The new water meters can be read remotely via a radio signal 12 months a year. The old meters are read by hand are not checked during the three or four months when snow is on the ground.
Town council assigned Apollo’s proposals to its Public Works Committee for further discussion. The committee next meets in late October. The solar panels and other proposals likely won’t come before the full council for a final decision until November at the earliest.