Board considers contract with solar company

CENTER — Center trustees heard from Natacha Kiler with Renewable Energy Systems (RES) Tuesday regarding a solar array study RES has been conducting for Center for the past several months.
Kiler gave a presentation to the board in May, explaining the plan. During the initial presentation, Kiler said the solar array proposed by RES would cost the town about $1.5 to $3 million to set up, but would quickly realize returns in energy saved from power generation. Construction would run about six months. The first-year savings were approximated at $15,000, but quickly grow to six figures over a 25-year time period.
The system would supply about 10 percent of the town’s total electricity, Kiler said, and based on the outcome of the study, the cost first quoted to the town would be double the amount. If approved, the project would begin in 2018.
The town looked over the contract and said it would get back to Kiler after consulting with Town Attorney Mike Trujillo and when the full board could meet. Trustee Adeline Sanchez objected to some of the costs charged to the town by RES, but trustee Mary McClure commented that consultants are often more expensive than first thought.
The company already has worked with local farmer Dick Ramstetter and San Luis Rural Electric Cooperative (SLVREC), the potential owners of a 2.8 megawatt solar array in rural Saguache County just outside of Center.
The 25-acre project site is located at the corners of County Road B to the south, C to the north, 43 to the west and 44 to the east. The low-profile panels “will hardly be noticeable to anyone,” Ramstetter observed in an article last year. SLVREC will have a company install the panels this summer and then Ramstetter will lease it to them for eight years. At the end of that time the utility will own the solar array.
Water report
The town also received its water users report, with some surprising results regarding where the town’s water is going, board members indicated after going over the figures. A redacted list of the usage will be available later this week, Assistant Town Clerk Rose DeHerrera said.
Caselle system upgrade
After consulting with town auditors Wall, Smith and Bateman regarding the use of the Caselle accounting system, trustees approved a $5,100 upgrade to the software to speed up system performance. DeHerrera commented that the software needs to run on a separate system because operating with other systems slows the program down.
Downtown Communities, Inc.
Brandy Reitter, currently the interim clerk for the town of Saguache, appeared before the board as a representative of Downtown Communities, Inc. a consultant group helping communities develop their downtown districts. Center recently received a grant intended to be used to explore possibilities regarding downtown development.
Reitter encouraged the town to take advantage of the group’s experience in helping small towns grow their business district. Reitter said she has helped with a few of these technical assists and just wanted the town to know she was available to offer help with the grant.
Chocolate Festival
Saguache County Victims Advocate Coordinator Ellen Cox had planned to attend the meeting to pitch the annual Chocolate Festival but was called away at the last moment. Cox said earlier Tuesday she hopes Center police officers will volunteer for the pie throwing contest at the Oct. 5 festival.
The town suggested that police secretary Beatrice Gutierrez might be interested in attending the festival.
Town manager
Assistant Clerk DeHerrera said the town will be interviewing town manager candidates Thursday and will report on the results of the interviews next week.

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