Williamstown City Council discusses solar energy

WILLIAMSTOWN – City council continued discussions Tuesday regarding the possible addition of solar panels to the municipal building.

“I would like to educate myself more before I make recommendations to council,” said city attorney Blaine Myers. “I would like to find cities of similar size who have looked into or use solar energy and see what they think.”

Mayor Jean Ford agreed with Myers’ comments and said she believes the city has time to look into the possibility of solar energy and what it could mean for the city.

“I know I have some questions, but I would (also) like to take a better look at it before we do anything,” she said.

During the Nov. 5 council meeting, Chip Pickering of Pickering Energy Solutions addressed council with a desire to make Williamstown one of the first in the area to have solar energy.

At the time, Pickering proposed to add a solar energy system to the roof of the City Building or wastewater treatment plant to aid the city in energy savings while being ecologically friendly.

Pickering Energy Solutions does the work to engineer, permit, install and operate solar photovoltaic systems.

With a solar energy system, Pickering Energy Solutions will generate the renewable energy and sell it to the city at a discounted rate with extra power generated put back into the grid.

Pickering Energy Solutions has proposals out to Marietta College and West Virginia University at Parkersburg for similar systems.

The panels are estimated by Pickering to offset between 10 and 15 percent of the power costs for the city building site.

He believes the technology will evolve where the system will become more efficient and produce more as rules are moving toward this technology, taking up more energy needs in the future.

“One thing we need to look into is, and I know Pickering Energy Solutions does the work, but I believe if you decide to go that route, the city needs to solicit and not just deal with one company for the work,” Myers said.

The attorney suggests the city will need to put out bids for the work and not just hire Pickering’s company if council does decide it would like to try solar energy.

“I know a lot more municipalities have been doing this than I would have thought, but they are larger than us, for the most part, so we need to do our homework,” Myers said.

Myers and Ford said they would continue to do research and come back to council with their thoughts at a later date.

In other business:

* Ford reminded the city’s residents of the election for the mayor’s and two city council seats on May 13. Those who wish to run for these positions need to pick up petitions at the City Building, on W. Fifth Street, and have them completed and returned by Jan. 31.