Mayor Gere Tuesday night addressed concerns that the city’s plan to add solar panels to City Hall just isn’t worth it, saying that the panels will reduce the City's electric bills by $2,000 a year.
Gere pointed out, in a statement read at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, “From a standpoint of local fiscal prudence, as well as energy efficiency, the decision to proceed is straightforward.” She said that, not only does the city same in energy costs, but also will collect state incentive payments of $5,000 a year through at least 2020.
All this, Gere noted, at no cost to the Anacortes taxpayers. She said, “If the City were to refuse the $184,710 grant, the money would go elsewhere. We can accept it and save taxpayers money, or refuse it and let some other city's taxpayers reap the benefits. It's a bit like getting a gift certificate from a parent who wants us to have a costly, energy-efficient appliance - we cannot cash it out, invest it, or spend it anywhere else.”
Several letters published by the Anacortes American over the past month have criticized the city’s deal. One, by Mark Lijeck, said, “If we divide the cost of the project by the annual savings, we learn that the it will pay for itself … in a mere 102.4 years!”
Another letter writer, Elizabeth Ray, pointed out that the City Council has been discussing replacing City Hall sometime in the next few years. She concluded, “Well, I guess they decided that stucco will last ’til we’re in the next century since they’ve committed so much money for the rooftop system.”
Gere’s Tuesday night statement added, “he City is looking ahead 20 years and planning for our future, with more environmentally efficient sources of sustainable energy. This is so important. The technology today may not be as economically viable, but it will be, long term, and we must start somewhere. It is the City's job to think far into the future in all our decisions.”