Pioneer Council Debates Solar Power Grid

The topic of bringing a solar power grid to the Village of Pioneer was discussed in length at Tuesday’s meeting on September 11, 2012, and a date was set for the village’s trick-or-treat event.

Prior to the discussion, council approved motions to approve the agenda, the minutes of the last meeting, approved the financial report, and approved the payment of monthly bills.

Chief of police Tim Livengood reported that Sargeant Todd Trego had been selected by the Department of Homeland Security to attend a training course. He had attended courses last year in learning techniques to defend and protect the area from terrorism, and has now been selected to train and teach others the skills that he had learned. He will be attending this course in October. The motion to send Sgt. Trego was approved. Because of the town’s proximity to the turnpike, to Detroit and to the Canadian border, the department felt that it is in Pioneer’s interest to have trained law enforcers. The village will be reimbursed for any expenses that the village may incur in sending Trego to the training.

Mayor Ed Kidston remarked, “How fitting is it that we approved this on 9/11!”

Chief Denny Fackler presented the fire department report. He said that local firemen recently participated in a training exercise on 3rd Street and that it had gone well. Kunkle firemen also participated. The next training exercise is scheduled for October 15.

For the village administrator’s report, Al Fiser indicated that the Baubice/Ohio Street project bid had been awarded to Miller Brothers Construction. Since the bid had come in under cost, the project will now be extended to cover the rest of Baubice Street to Cedar Street. The final cost of the project will be $541,827, with the cost being covered by grants from CDBG, OPWC Public Works, ODOT, and Williams County Revitalization. This left the village with a cost toward the project of $34,136, but the county has committed to paying $30,000 of that, leaving the actual cost to the village of just over $4000. Village Solicitor Tom Thompson said that he had signed the contract on Friday. Construction is scheduled to begin on September 24. The project has a completion date of November 15, 2012. This is a two-phase project with two crews being utilized at the same time to speed up the process and complete on time.

Fiser said that there was now enough money for the village to have a large refuse pick-up twice this year as the cost is no longer prohibitive. If a second pick-up is not scheduled this year, this may be an option for 2013. The topic was tabled for discussion.

The water town has been on line now for two months with no issues. Fiser said that that the company that built the tower, Gateway, had requested final payment, and a motion to pay in full was approved. A local industry has asked for a loan from the village to buy equipment. Pioneer Custom Molding will be able to retain three jobs if this is approved. The village budgets out $100,000 per year, and has funds available for services such as this. Council is waiting for Maumee Valley Planning to “crunch numbers,” and the subject will be re-visited at the next meeting.

Fiscal officer April McMillen reported that she had received a $500 scholarship to be used toward expenses for a conference that she will be attending in October. She has received a total of $1150 in scholarship monies. She also indicated that income tax is up.

Mayor Kidston said that he would like to see more trees planted in Crommer Park. Few of the recently planted trees were lost to drought or planting. He would also like to see a nice permanent sign in the adjacent parking lot by spring, welcoming people to the park.

He reported that new signs have been erected at the cemetery, labeling lanes and the plot numbers. He said that plots are now much more easily located, and a map is also being provided. Each drive has two of the new signs.

A motion was made to pass Ordinance 17-2012, and ordinance amending appropriations for 2012, and declaring an emergency. The motion was approved. The ordinance allows the village to make payments from the general fund. It was passed by emergency measure necessary for the preservation of the public safety, in conducting orderly business of the village of Pioneer.

Resolution 08-2012 was also voted upon and approved, authorizing the village administrator to enter into an agreement with Bell Engineering for on-site inspection services for the construction of storm sewers on Ohio and Baubice Streets within the Village of Pioneer. Council has agreed to pay Bell Engineering a total amount of $16,750 for their services.

Ordinance 18-2012 was proposed, authorizing the village administrator to execute a Power Purchase Agreement between the Village of Pioneer, Ohio, and Solar Planet, LLC, and declaring an emergency. Council then entered into a discussion on the possibility of the Columbus, Ohio, company building a solar power grid in Pioneer.

The company is offering to build a solar power grid in Pioneer at no cost to the village. A 7 – 8 acre parcel on the north side of the lagoon has been scouted as a possible location. If a grid is built, it will generate ½ to 1 megawatt of power. The company has agreed to build and maintain the grid and the property, which will be fenced. The village would then be able to buy solar power at wholesale cost, but Solar Planet would take the renewable energy credits (RECs) instead of those credits going to the village. A 25 year contract would need to be signed before the project could begin. The village has not yet been provided with a copy of the contract, and wording is still being debated. Solar Planet is also requesting a firm commitment by the end of September.

Mayor Kidston said that he was uncomfortable with being rushed into a decision. He said that although on the surface this looks like a great deal, he needs to see the details first. Administrator Al Fiser said that the only real benefit to the village would be that they could say they were providing “green” energy. It will not actually save the village any money. It would also not provide enough power to the village to make any difference. Kidston said that for comparison, there were 7.2 million megawatts drawn by the village on the previous night. On a weekend when most of the factories are not running, they might draw 3 million megawatts. He felt that other aspects needed to be investigated, and that they would need to have a discussion with AMP-Ohio, a current energy supplier, to make sure it would not affect the relationship between Pioneer and AMP. He also wants to know who would be called upon to fix any problems that should arise from the grid, and if attaching lines from the new grid would damage existing lines. Council members also expressed concern about what would happen with the solar grid if the company should bankrupt any time during the 25 year contract. Kidston said that if the council was uncomfortable with the proposal for any reason, then they shouldn’t do it.  Before moving forward and signing a contract, he wants to see actual copies of the contract and distribute them to village administrators and council members.

Fiser said that approving the motion did not mean that the project itself had been approved, only that it would allow village solicitor Tom Thompson to review the contract, and sign if it looks solid. A special council meeting could be called if it was necessary for members to meet again to go over the contract. The motion was approved.

Council then announced the date that all village children have been awaiting, the date of Pioneer’s Trick-or-Treat. The Halloween event will be held on Tuesday, October 30 from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. Costume judging will be held at the Fire Hall beginning at 7:30 p.m. Council asked that all residents take absolute care that evening, reduce their speed and keep a careful eye out for trick-or-treators.

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