Pioneer Council Continues Solar Power Debate

The Pioneer Village Council continued discussion on the solar power plant that is being offered to the village. Consultant John Courtney was present at the Monday, October 8 meeting to answer questions from the council members and village administrators.

Mayor Ed Kidston wanted to make sure that every possible scenario was discussed before advancing with the project.  Solar Planet is offering to build a solar power plant for the village of Pioneer, and will construct and maintain the plant free of cost to the town. The village will also purchase power at the current wholesale cost that they pay AMP-Ohio.

Mr. Courtney explained that with this power plant, Pioneer will only pay for the power actually used. Mayor Ed Kidston raised concerns that the village could be charged for more than the wholesale amount and stated that council would not move ahead unless language is written into the contract guaranteeing that the town would buy at a wholesale rate.  This rate would be based on what they village actually paid for energy from AMP-Ohio over the previous year.

Kidston expressed concern that there could be fallout with AMP-Ohio because of this project, but Courtney assured him that it did not seem to be the case as there are seven other communities also under AMP that are also in talks to bring power from Solar Planet to their cities and villages. The company is offering to build solar power plants in these communities as he has already purchased solar panels, and wishes to receive the renewable energy credits from the plants that they build. Solar Planet would like to have these projects completed before the end of this year. Charlie Shinn of the company had told Mr. Courtney that he wants to “give back” to small communities and businesses.

Kidston asked what would happen if the company went bankrupt or abandoned the project. Courtney said that if Solar Planet defaults, they would take the plant down, and that they would be asked to put up a bond guaranteeing that they will follow through with removal. If the company abandons the plant, the village would have the option to retain the plant. When asked to whom payments would be made if there is a default by Solar Planet, Courtney answered that the bank had first security, and payments would be paid to the loaner. At present, Solar Planet has not revealed what bank will finance the project, but will be named at the time the contract is signed. Solar Planet is not using the town’s site as for their credit rating to get the loan, and a lien cannot be put on the acreage if the company defaults.

Kidston said that if the cost to purchase power from the solar plant is “at the same cost (as currently purchased from AMP), I don’t know how we can go wrong.”

Courtney added that since the solar plant would provide on 2% of Pioneer’s energy, that if the village did not feel comfortable, “don’t do it.”

A final decision has not yet been made on whether or not to advance. There is a cost for a review of the projects in the eight communities, and this will be split among each of the towns.

Sargeant Trego gave the police report. He requested that the council move Officer John Roberts off probationary status to Patrolman 2 status. This was approved. Councilman Richard Schmucker asked if there had been any progress toward the ordinance that would allow the police to ticket unlicensed vehicles. Village Solicitor Tom Thompson said that he had a date set with Chief of Police Tim Livengood to discuss the ordinance.

Fire Chief Denny Fackler reported that there were 16 runs and 2 controlled burns since his last report to council. He added the the fire department has finished their practice runs at a local house and that it could now be demolished.

Village Administrator Al Fiser reported that the Baubice Street project had reached village limits and that it was coming along as well as expected. He said that the dike project had begun. An estimate of $71,000 for the job had been obtained from a contractor, but the village felt that this was too high a cost. The village is doing the project instead at a cost of $10,000-15,000, and according to Public Works Supervisor, it is already one-third done. They will be grading and seeding within the week.

Fiser told the council that the village has completed roofing village owned buildings, and that this was done in a timely fashion.

Council moved on a request from Pioneer Custom Molding for a line of credit from the village’s revolving fund. Fiser recommended that council approve the financing, and the motion was carried under Resolution 09-2012. The company will receive a loan for $67,000 which will be used for machinery. Pioneer Custom Molding will put down 10% of the cost. The loan will be re-paid over a 5 year period with 3 ½ % interest. Payment will be made monthly. This move should mean job creation and retention.

Mayor Ed Kidston, Village Administrator Al Fiser, and Electrical Superintendent Richard Fairbanks will be attending the annual AMP-Ohio Conference October 22 – 14, 2012.  Kidston reminded council that October 7 – 13 is Public Power Week.

Ordinance 19-2012 was approved amending appropriations for 2012 and declaring an emergency. This allowed Fiscal Officer April McMillen to appropriate funds for payment for a new JAWS Unit for the fire department, and toward other projects.

Council met in executive session to discuss contract negotiations before adjourning for the evening.

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