GREG LOWER

Chanute city commissioners discussed solar energy with energy officials and the neighbor of a proposed project Monday evening.

The commission met with Brandon Sack of Westar Clean Energy Development and Scott Shreve of consultants Energy Management Group about a proposed solar-voltaic project to be built near the city’s south energy plant on south Plummer.

The commission also heard from neighboring resident Kathy Wicker.

Commissioners said after the discussion that they wanted to talk about it more, and Mayor Sam Budreau said the consensus seemed to be to bring it back to the table.

Westar has proposed working with the city on the 8.89 kilowatt solar power project to provide electricity to Ash Grove. The project would be on the city’s property, and the city would have the option to purchase the project after seven years.

Shreve said the project would supply 5 to 6 percent of Ash Grove’s energy load. The project would use fixed solar panels rather than those that move with the sun. The panels would produce their optimum electricity at 1 pm, and after 25 years would still produce 80 percent of capacity.

Each panel would cost $160 and would be five feet long and four feet wide. They would be stacked two panels high and angled at 25 degrees.

The officials said the panels might be screened from nearby view by trees. Commissioner Eddie Rosenberger asked if the Federal Aviation Administration had regulations on the potential glare, and City Manager Jeff Cantrell said the location would not be a factor for Chanute’s Martin Johnson Airport.

Wicker, 4535 S. Plummer, gave commissioners written material of other solar-voltaic projects and said Chanute has sunshine 224 days a year. She said federal credits for solar energy decline from 30 percent this year over the coming years.

“As neighbors, we are not anxious for you to be doing this at all,” she said, adding that she didn’t think the energy could be stored.

City Attorney David Brake said the electricity would not need to be stored, but it won’t be wasted.

“If we’re going to be a ‘city of innovation,’ we probably ought to do it once in a while,” Commissioner Phil Chaney said.

Cantrell said officials needed to know now if the commissioners had an issue because of adjacent property owners. He said it looks like the project would go to the planning commission.

The project would take six months to construct and Shreve said it could be operational by 2021.

In other business, commissioners scheduled a work session for 5:30 pm May 6 to discuss the ballfield project at Santa Fe Park.

Cantrell said the Chanute Recreation Commission, which wanted to be a part of the project, found its proceeds were not where they were previously and the CRC would not be able to participate because of lack of funding after the CRC ended its year in the red.

“It’s not an easy path they’re carving,” Cantrell said.

On a separate issue, city commissioners approved making improvements to another field for use by the Babe Ruth games. Lights were removed from the previous Babe Ruth field because of safety issues.

Cantrell also reported on a question brought at a previous meeting from Commissioner Jacob LaRue about stop signs. Cantrell said in comparisons with other cities, it is common for intersections to not have stop signs, and he said it would require 700 additional signs at a cost of $117,000 to provide full coverage at intersections in Chanute.

About the viability of using a city-owned building at 615 W. Cherry for an animal shelter and emergency vehicle station, Cantrell said the functions might use a third to a fourth of the building. He said the cost of separating utilities so the rest of the structure could be leased would be higher than building a new animal shelter.

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