City considers solar panels for vacant lots in Warren

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A meeting was held Tuesday to discuss what the solar panels are and how they would benefit the city

WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Pretty soon, you may see solar panels in downtown Warren that would power the fire station and municipal buildings.

A meeting was held Tuesday to discuss what the solar panels are, how’d they’d be paid for and how it would benefit the people who live there.

“The whole idea started over cigars on somebody’s back porch. We were thinking about what we could put in vacant lots in the city,” said 3rd Ward Councilman Greg Greathouse.

That is when Greathouse and a few others came up with the idea of putting solar panels in the lots to power city buildings. For example, a lot at the corner of South Ave. SW and Main Ave. SW has been empty for 40 years.

“It lowers energy cost. The less money we have to pay for energy that’s more money to buy police cars, hire firemen, to resurface roads. It’s just saving the city money, plus its green energy. It lowers our carbon footprint,” Greathouse said.

The solar park would be two and a half acres, supply 500 to 700 kilowatts of energy and cost about $600,000 to $1 million, but there are options where the city would pay nothing upfront.

“Typically, a third-party-owned system with no money down type option. You are going to finance the project through a power purchase agreement that is going to a long-term contract that the city is going to sign,” said Dan Cook, director of Solarstone. “Those payments over that long-term contract will pay back the system.”

Greathouse says by and large the solar park is supported, but some people still have questions.

“The solar panels that they are proposing to put in downtown Warren I think it’s a great idea. I do have a problem with the location but hopefully, we can negotiate another site in the city,” said 6th Ward Councilwoman Cheryl Saffold.

Should the park be a success, they could expand it into lots nearby and even sell kilowatt hours that they don’t need to other entities.

“Nobody is taking these down once they put them up. Everybody is saying this is a go,” Greathouse said.

Next, the city will have a feasibility study done to make sure the solar park would be financially beneficial for the city and for the citizens. Then, the council will vote on it.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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