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Norfolk Hepburn Library pulls out of Solar Project

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NORFOLK - The Hepburn Library has pulled out of a proposed solar power project in the municipality.

In July, town officials reviewed a proposal that promoters said could generate ample power to drastically reduce the electric bills at the library, municipal building and highway garage.

Town Supervisor Charles A. Pernice said that even without the library town officials plan on moving forward with the project.

“The library has pulled out of the solar project with us. and we’re trying to figure out a way to still make this work for all of us. I sent out some inquiries to the association of towns and talked to (Town Attorney Eric J. Gustafson) about it,” Mr. Pernice said.

“What I would like to do is continue forward with the solar project (with) half of it, a 50,000 KW system, half of it to run the town hall and highway garage and half of it to be funded by the water district, and half of the power will be allocated to the water treatment facility, hopefully negating that increase that we (approved.)”

Project leader Tim Opdyke and Northern Lights Energy owner Scott Shipley made their pitch for the installation of a solar generation park on approximately an acre and a half of property on Crabb Street during the board’s July meeting.

Mr. Shipley was involved with a similar project in Russell.

Mr. Pernice explained that the library backed out because they weren’t satisfied with how their contribution to the project would impact their budget.

“They’re not happy that they were going to allocate money they had in their savings account,” he said. “We’re just going to have to find a new partner.”

In October, when the town board was working through next year’s budget, the library requested a $1,250 increase in their fund, but that request was denied. Instead, the library fund remained at $108,059.

“So, we’re looking at a five-year loan for our half of it. Basically the water plant is going to determine if this is covered in reserves,” Mr. Pernice said.

The proposed panels are largely made to last 25 years and would go underground in an open field near the Norfolk Water Tower. The project would be built to generate 50 kilowatts of electricity, and Mr. Opdyke estimated the cost in July to be in the $187,500 range.

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