The ribbon cutting for a solar array that will generate an estimated 86 percent of the Talent Community Center’s electrical needs will be held at noon Saturday as part of the city's annual Harvest Festival.
The system went online last week.
A $60,000 grant from Pacific Power’s Blue Sky program and an $8,000 city match funded installation of the system in the 2-year-old building, at 104 W. Main St., which had been designed to accommodate solar power.
Without solar the city spent $3,459 on electricity for the Community Center over the last 12 months. The project will be tied into the grid, and when excess power is generated it can be used elsewhere.
True South Solar of Ashland installed the array, which takes up about one-third of the roof and faces south. The panels have a life expectancy of 25 years. A chart prepared by True South shows energy production should exceed use May through September but does not equal the use in other months.
Pacific Power credits that excess generation to the building’s account and it will be drawn against in the winter.
Talent was designated as one of 60 Green Power Communities nationwide by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2015 for its rate of purchase of renewable energy. Talent had the fourth-highest rate in the state for renewable purchases, and participation in Pacific Power’s Blue Sky Program was four times higher than the average for other communities in Southern Oregon.
The City Council approved purchasing 20 percent of city energy from renewable sources in December 2015. This year, the council adopted a Clean Energy Action Plan for 2017.
“We are trying to keep up with our commitment for year one of the action plan,” City Manager Tom Corrigan said of the solar installation.
Discussions are underway about having the city make a longer-term clean action commitment through 2030. Such a step would be incorporated into the city’s comprehensive plan and would therefore be subject to debate and public hearings, said Corrigan.
Two other city actions also are targeted toward clean energy goals.
• The city applied for a Blue Sky grant to fund installation of solar panels at the public works yard to power two pumps that move water through the city’s water system. Corrigan said a solar installation would have the added benefit of being a backup power source in the event of an electrical grid failure.
“The variable-speed pumps are a huge draw on power. They pump water to all the residents," said Corrigan.
• The Oregon Department of Transportation has offered an electrical vehicle charging station to the city at no cost except for installation, which will run about $2,000, said Corrigan. The station will be located at the Community Center and will be the only one in Talent. Installation will begin as soon as the unit is received.
— Tony Boom is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.