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Solar panel project slowed

Wednesday morning sun catches the solar panels on the Connersville Utilities office on Vine Street. The panels are not yet connected to the grid butexpectedto offset electrical needs by the fall.

By DARRELL SMITH - dsmith@newsexaminer.com

Like farmers, contractors and others who have had outdoor projects this spring, the installation of solar panels on city-owned buildings has been delayed by the weather and lack of contractors.

The energy savings project consists of installation of LED lighting in city-owned facilities and installation of solar panels at 14 locations. Savings on the city’s electrical bills are expected to pay for the equipment and some other planned city projects.

During an update meeting with city officials, Project Manager Noah Pickerel of PSG Energy Group said a firm completion date could not be given for solar panel installation.

“Because of the season we’ve had and the weather, and I had an issue with another contractor, I found these guys I’m working with and we’re working through the technicalities,” he said Tuesday. “When that happens, I can put out some firm dates.”

Previously, projected completion dates fell through, he said. The completion date will certainly be before winter, and he is hoping for September or maybe into October.

Everyone is behind due to the weather this spring. The ground sites for panel installations have been too wet to work, he said.

Installations are complete on the roofs of the Connersville Utilities Vine Street office, Fire Stations 3 and 4 and City Hall. A contractor will start the electrical connections on those locations next week, Pickerel said.

The next installations will likely be the waste transfer station, then Roberts Park, then the water treatment plant, the utilities Ohio Avenue location and other projects in the city before projects outside the city limits.

One solar field will be on land that is part of Rivers Edge Park along Veterans Memorial Drive. Producing 1.01 megawatts of electricity, that field will produce the most power of all the sites.

Panels are planned for the roof of the Street Department garage and office building but the building needs a new roof.

Street Superintendent Darryll Morehead said roof contractors are booked and cannot do the work. He is searching for someone to replace the roof on the steel truss building.

The Connersville Fire Department’s aerial truck is going to be used to reach the Roberts Park amphitheater roof. The truck is out of service, which has delayed that installation, Pickerel said.

The LED lighting portion of the project is nearly complete except for a few minor corrections required following a recent “punch list” review of the project. 

Clerk-Treasurer Rosemary Brown said it is difficult to give a specific savings on electrical use from the LED lighting because shortly after completion of the installation, Duke Energy changed all the meters.