The city of Ketchum has made a deal with the investor who paid for a solar energy system to be installed on the roof of the Ore Wagon Museum, paving the way for the system to finally begin producing power.
Sagebrush Solar installed the solar panels last fall, but they’ve never generated energy because of delays in working out agreements among the city government, Idaho Power Co. and the investor, OWM Solar LLC. That changed on May 16 when the Ketchum City Council voted 3-0 to approve a lease agreement with OWM Solar. Councilman Baird Gourlay abstained from voting.
The agreement allows the city to lease the panels from OWM Solar, City Administrator Suzanne Frick said last week.
The panels will generate electricity, but under Idaho law, OWM Solar cannot sell the power directly to the city. Instead, it will be fed into Idaho Power’s electric grid. The city will get a credit for the electricity produced.
The city will have cost savings—the agreement ensures that the city’s lease payment will be 90 percent of the rate at which Idaho Power sells electricity.
That will amount to an estimated lease payment to OWM of about $2,700 annually. The credit from Idaho Power will be for about 41,000 kilowatt hours of solar energy production, valued at $3,000. The city spends almost $15,000 each year to purchase about 195,000 kilowatt hours of electricity from Idaho Power to run City Hall.
OWM Solar’s investor, Ketchum resident Tift Mann, paid for the $63,000 upfront installation cost. Mann should get a 5 to 6 percent annual rate of return on his investment, said his son, Billy Mann, owner of Sagebrush Solar.
Billy Mann said his father considers the environmental and social benefits of renewable energy production as important as any financial return from the solar system.