Mike McKibbin

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February 13, 2013
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Solar power pact put on hold

A proposed 20-year solar power purchase agreement that would see solar arrays added to eight city of Rifle facilities was put on hold by City Council to allow time to investigate some financing questions.

City Attorney Jim Neu told council at their Feb. 6 meeting that the issues involve investors in the project, tax credits and how the city can set aside at least four years worth of funds.

"I need to take a closer look at this, because for the investors in this, they need a commitment from the city for at least four years to make it work for them," Neu said.

However, the Taxpayers Bill of Rights limits agreements such as these to one year, unless the city sets aside, or appropriates, the total amount involved, which is more than $270,000, Neu said.

The proposed agreement from Martifer Solar, the Sol Haven Fund investment group and Carbondale-based contractor SoL Energy calls for private investors to finance the installation of solar panels, then sell the generated power back to the city at a reduced cost. No city funds would go towards construction.

The city facilities identified for solar arrays are the Rifle Police Station, City Hall, the Taughenbaugh ball fields at Deerfield Park, and several public works and parks and recreation buildings.

Martifer Solar is a Portuguese company that specializes in large scale solar installations, with U.S. offices in Denver, Connecticut and California. The company has completed similar solar power projects for other Colorado municipalities, including the cities of Aurora and Evans and Lake County. Neu acknowledged that fact, but said he still wanted to research the financial issues.

Council voted 6-0, with Councilman Jonathan Rice absent, to table the agreement until its Feb. 20 meeting.

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The Post Independent Updated Feb 13, 2013 05:38PM Published Feb 13, 2013 05:37PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.