Town works with FOWL on proposal
Solar panels have always been a part of plans for the new Winthrop library that opened in mid-2022. Now the town and Friends of the Winthrop Library (FOWL), the nonprofit that built the facility, are teaming up to request state grant funds to advance the solar project.
At its meeting last week, the Town Council supported a request by FOWL to apply for a Washington Department of Commerce grant to help pay for a photovoltaic array of panels on the south roof of the library building. FOWL said in a memo to the council that “the solar installation will significantly lower electricity costs for the building and serve as a real-time renewable energy awareness and learning tool.”
After the new library was completed, it was turned over to the town by FOWL. The library is operated by the NCW Libraries system.
The request for state funding will technically come from the town, with assistance by FOWL in preparing the grant proposal. FOWL said it would also work to raise any required local match funds for the grant. FOWL volunteers Michael Zuidweg, Ellen Lamiman and Curtis Edwards are providing technical expertise for the grant application, FOWL said.
Estimated cost of the project is $260,000, with an expected local match of 30%, FOWL said. Other grant options may also be available, according to the FOWL.
In a summary of the solar proposal, FOWL said the goal is to generate most or all of the electricity the building would need in a typical year. Through an agreement with the Okanogan County Electric Cooperative, any excess power generated by solar array would become a credit against future electricity bills.
The building was constructed with installation of a solar array in mind, including being engineered for the additional weight, FOWL said.
Assuming success with a grant application and generating the local match, it’s most likely installation of a solar array would occur in 2024, FOWL said.
In other business, the council agreed to leave in place the existing rental fees for use of the town-owned-and-operated Winthrop Barn. Michelle Parsons, the Barn’s operations manager, said rental requests have steadily increased since the facility reopened for general use in 2022.
The council also approved the appointment of Nilsine Harris to the Westernization Design Review Board. Mayor Sally Ranzau said the board still has one opening, and that there are two openings on Planning Commission. For information about any of the openings, call the town at (509) 996-2320.