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BMU taking full possession of solar field

Thanks to The Bryan Times we have this article.

By Max Reinhart

Feb 1, 2022

By the end of this month, Bryan Municipal Utilities will own its 14-acre solar field outright.

BMU Director of Utilities Nathan Gardner told the Bryan Board of Public Affairs during its regular meeting on Tuesday that BMU is making its final payments on the 10-year lease to Key Government Finance for the array, located on Ohio 34, just west of city limits.

In September 2021, the board agreed to buy the project for about $397,000 to take possession of the project.

At that time, Gardner said the solar field benefits BMU to the tune of an average of $34,000 per year in generation credits and over $41,000 per year in capacity credits. It generates more than 2.65 million kilowatt-hours of energy annually, enough to power 260 average Bryan homes.

Board member Tom Sprow noted that in around eight month’s time the array will have generated enough power to have paid for the $397,000 purchase price.

The board also approved an approximately $29,000 agreement with GEM Energy and its parent company, Rudolph Libbe Group, for operation and maintenance of the solar field.

Gardner GEM Energy/Rudolph Libbe currently handles this work at a price of about $39,000. He explained that, with BMU taking over ownership, BMU will have greater latitude to handle some upkeep and operation, which allowed him to negotiate the lower cost.

He also noted that the agreement allows BMU to take ownership of 60 or so spare solar panels and other equipment.

Board member Dick Long was the only member to vote against the agreement. He said he still had misgivings about Rudolph Libbe following a 2017 equipment failure at the field and subsequent disagreement between Rudolph Libbe, BMU and insurers about liability.

He said that Lowell Metzger, the company’s vice president of contracts/risk management was “less than professional” during this contention and that “I wouldn’t work with him if you paid me to.”

In other action, the board approved a change order increasing the price of a digger derrick truck to a total of about $297,000.

BMU Operations Manager Derek Schultz explained that the increase was due to necessary outrigger components, which keep the vehicle stabilized, and a commodity surcharge on steel.

He noted the new price is still lower than the $310,000 that had been budgeted for the equipment. The board also met in closed, executive session to consider the employment and compensation of a public employee, with no action reported to The Bryan Times as of press deadline.

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