Town Engineer and Public Works Director Ron Grittman conducts a tour of the town’s waste water treatment plant, explaining how solar panels will help power the facility.
What started as a simple question to a candidate has grown into a source of renewable energy with the potential to save the town of Chino Valley nearly $4,000 each month.
“I really learned the importance of being careful of what you say when you’re running for office,” said Councilwoman Linda Hatch with a laugh during a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new solar portion of the Chino Valley Waste Water Plant.
Hatch explained to the guests in attendance, including Leisa Brug, the Director of the Governor’s Office of Energy Policy for Arizona, that while running for office four years ago, she and the other candidates were asked what they hoped to see in the future for Chino Valley.
“The CEO of the Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce (Ab Jackson) asked all of the candidates what they saw for the town five, 10, and 15 years from now,” Hatch told her audience. “That allowed me to dream and I thought about a community where everyone would want to live, both businesses and residential. A place where there was a lot of green energy that was cost effective and inexpensive.”
Hatch explained that a few months later, Dr. James Subach asked her if the town would be able to use donated solar panels. Subach put the town in connection with TÜV Rheinland PTL, LLC, a company that conducts tests on solar panels.
Hatch said that as the partnership with TÜV Rheinland PTL grew, the
town was able to secure donated panels,
with additional panels available through grant money.
Subach, who also spoke to the crowd in attendance at the March 23 ceremony, explained that stipulations in the grant required the town to use only American-made panels.
“There was a bit of a dust-up about how ‘American made’ was defined, but thanks to people from the town and the state, this was ironed out,” said Subach. “Overall, the town will save over a quarter of a million dollars in electricity costs over the next 20 years.”
The plant, located near Old Home Manor on Rodeo Dr. has been operating since 2004, relying on conventional electric power to operate. The solar panels allow for accumulated solar energy to be sent back to the Arizona Public Service (APS) system, then credit the town back on the energy used.
“This plant costs about $7,500 a month in electrical costs to operate,” said Ron Grittman, Public Works Director and Town Engineer. “When we get fully operational with the solar panels, we anticipate that we can generate about 50 percent of that with solar. What it does is feeds back into the APS meter and it actually spins backwards, crediting us the difference, about $3,725 per month.”
Praising those responsible for bringing the project together, Brug said “Your community is impressive. You didn’t just do a solar project; you worked on a multi-level concept that is going to help determine your energy future.” Brug added that like projects will become a staple for communities nationwide. “The nation and the state are moving toward a more diverse energy portfolio. The governor is committed to making Arizona the solar capital of the world.”
Hatch stated that the overall cost for the project was $187,000, nearly all paid for by donations along with state and federal grants. “The cost to the town was only about $5,000,” said Hatch. “The project is projected to pay for itself in about eight years, but the portion we as a town paid is basically nothing.”
Following the ribbon cutting ceremony a reception took place in council chambers.
Source: Chino Valley Review