MASON CITY | Solar panels are being installed on two roofs at the Mason City Public Library, culminating a two-year effort by library Director Mary Markwalter and the library board.
In 2014, the city budgeted $375,000 in its capital improvement budget for the solar project. Bid came in below budget. But there was an 18-year payback, which a majority of council members felt was too long.
Markwalter and the library board sought other possibilities and came up with one that is costing the city a fraction of what the bids had been.
Moxie Solar of North Liberty, a company that specializes in solar energy projects, is installing the solar panels. The project is being funded by private investors secured by Moxie.
The company will do the installation and handle all maintenance for 15 years, after which the city will purchase the system for $15,000 -- the fair market value, according to Markwalter.
The city's expense will be the cost per watt used and will be comparable to what it would pay a private utility company, she said. Meanwhile, it avoids having to pay the $300,000-plus of purchasing the solar panels outright.
Initial estimates show the projected savings in energy costs at $166,765 in the 10 years after the city purchases the system.
Markwalter said the system is guaranteed for 25 years and the solar plant is expected to last 45 years.
She expects the project to be completed in three weeks.