Hillsboro agrees to participate in KPP Energy grant application

The Hillsboro City Council voted to participate in a KPP Energy grant application that would install a 1-megawatt solar array that would span seven acres in Hillsboro.

Hillsboro City Administrator Matt Stiles told the council at their meeting on Nov. 7 that KPP has been successful in making it to the second layer of the PACE grant process and now must know if the city is

seriously interested in participating. He showed them a map of the proposed site which is out near the wastewater lagoons.

“This property is really not going to be used for anything else. I don’t know if we’re going to ever develop next to the lagoons. I don’t think that would be a wise decision. There’s also the issue of 70% of this lot is in floodplain, but that’s not an issue for the solar project. It’s just an issue for development,” said Stiles.

The council learned that there would be no project costs for the city with the project. Assets are KPP-owned, and the city is compensated for any maintenance performed. Stiles explained that currently the city receives farm rent of $441 annually which is a negligible amount.

“The operations and maintenance costs are all borne by KPP and the city enjoys the benefit of reduced power costs. The projected life span of panels is 30 years though they will continue to produce energy after that at a reduced rate due to panel degradation,” said Stiles.

Another benefit of the project is that it will reduce power cost.

“While the array is not a city-owned asset it does reduce the cost for the pool and for the city. There is a possibility that the city could receive some direct credit for allowing the array to be placed on city property, but that is to be determined,” said Stiles.

He also said that KPP needs to invest in more capacity for its requirements in the Southwest Power Pool while the Walnut Energy Center is waiting to be brought online. Rather than renting that capacity, the solar projects allow KPP to own and operate the arrays as long-term assets. It also makes Hillsboro a generating city for the pool which has advantages.

Stiles explained that the city would retain ownership of the property and provide KPP with a long-term easement. A feasibility study will be done with this project and there would be numerous other decisions that the council will be asked to consider if this project moves forward. The property will also need to be rezoned for the use if things move forward, but that does not need to happen immediately.

The council learned that the grant is competitive but with the invitation to participate, the likelihood of

it being funded is higher. For the city there are no major financial downsides. The long-term

benefits to the KPP pool and the city are positive and will help to keep power costs down for the

lifespan of these assets.

Participating in this grant proposal does not guarantee the project will move forward. However, if it does move forward the benefits to the city greatly outweigh the costs. The council voted to participate and will now wait to see if the grant is awarded.

The council also voted to give a property owner at 510 S. Washington 10 days to request a hearing or his property would be eligible for abatement the week of Nov. 19-25.

Stiles explained that Code Enforcement Officer Doug Dick has been working with homeowner Zachary Haskins to get his property cleaned up for months. Haskins has not been responsive or cooperative with the requests and the property has gotten progressively worse.

“Should the city have to abate the property then the costs can be assessed back to the owner. The cost of clean-up that staff computed is $200 per person, per hour. That cost covers all the associated costs of the employee, equipment, disposal charges and liability. The rough estimate of time is 4 hours with a two man crew, or $1,600 total. That would be adjusted based on actual time spent cleaning the property,” said Stiles.

In other business, the council:

* heard a sanitation department update from David Lockwood

* approved the purchase of water treatment chemical totaling $25,168.58

* agreed to allow David Loewen to hay approximately 16 acres of property at the airport.

* authorized staff to place $1.5 million in idle funds in the 30-day cd with Central National Bank

* approved proposed bid from Hett Construction for the Ash Street repair and Ash and Grand sidewalk/pedestrian crossing repair at a total cost of $29,269.76.

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