Town seeks grant to explore solar

T he town is seeking funds to study a possible solar project that could power some of the community’s municipal buildings.

The town board approved a resolution during last week’s board meeting allowing councilperson Stephanie Safka to apply for a grant on behalf of the town that would provide financing to further explore and plan the project.

“It’s like a feasibility study,” Safka said. “This grant would help pay for the development of a plan or study.”

Safka, who is a proponent of solar energy and set as one of her goals a municipal solar project, said the idea for the project originated during a meeting she and highway superintendent Louie Pratt had with the engineering firm, Barton and Loguidice.

Dean Mason, a representative from the firm, brought up the topic of a solar project and Safka decided to research it further.

The initial idea is for 10 solar panels to be installed at the town highway garage on state Route 4. The energy produced by the panels would provide electricity at the garage and the excess could be diverted to the Canal Corp. Visitors Center.

The estimated cost of the panels, with a 20 percent grant, is $70,000 and it would take approximately 20 years before the project began to pay for itself, which Safka admits isn’t financially realistic.

“The only way for it to be feasible is to bring it in at 50 percent,” she said. At that price, the town could begin to realize a savings on its investment in 10 years.

Safka said if the project can be demonstrated to benefit multiple agencies, such as the town and Canal Corp., there may be additional funding available. The study would seek to identify grants that may be available to pay for part of the project.

“I think environmentally it sets a tone. If people pass them every day it starts to become commonplace,” she said.


Firehouse needs new alarm

In other matters, Pratt gave a detailed status report of renovations to the former Skenesborough Firehouse.

He said Russ Kiggins, a code enforcement officer with Washington County, inspected the building last week and determined it needs a new fire alarm system.

The town has hired Mahoney Notify of Glens Falls to install a new system, but Pratt said they it would be three to four weeks before they would be able to complete the work. The delay is expected to push back the town’s target date, from Sept. 1 to Oct. 1.

He said once the system has been installed, the town could move its offices into the building. Public meetings can not be held in the building until a new handicap bathroom is installed and a set of fire doors are hung.

Pratt said the town has spent $20,728 on renovations thus far and estimated it would cost another $20,000 before the building was suitable for public use.


New compliance officer

The town also approved the hire of Jamie Huntington as the new compliance officer. Huntington, who is a part time officer with the Whitehall Police Department, was the only one to apply for the position.

The previous compliance officer, Bill Jones, had to resign because of time constraints.

Huntington is expected to being immediately.

The board presented Putorti’s Market with a certificate of appreciation for its contributions to the lunch program at the Recreation Center.

The next board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Sept. 12.



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