Council Recap: EMU solar plan moves forward

Alex Sirney -- April 13th, 2010

Harrisonburg City Council approved rezoning that would allow Eastern Mennonite University to go forward with plans to install solar power cells that could provide up to 20 percent of EMU’s power among other actions Tuesday night.

The rezoning clears the way for EMU with council, though they are still negotiating with the Harrisonburg Electric Commission about some technical aspects. The project is funded by a state grant and would ultimately provide up to one megawatt of power.

EMU President Loren Swartzendruber said that this project was exciting and consistent with EMU’s long-standing record toward sustainability.

Other notable actions:

  • Council heard an apology from JMU’s Student Gorvernment Association president for student behavior during the civil disturbance Saturday night, and a report on the Village Lane incident from the HPD, prompting Mayor Kai Degner to call for students found responsible to be “excused from JMU and the community.”
  • Council heard a proposal from Linc Service detailing its strategy on improving energy use and saving money in the Public Safety Building, the Community Activities Center, the Public Works Building and the Municipal Building. The $2.6 million proposal could save the city nearly $200,000 annually and is the winning bid in the Technical Energy and Water Services Audit request for proposal. Council is waiting on staff recommendations on how to move forward.
  • A mediator has been found for the animal control services debate. Council is waiting to see if Rockingham county will be involved, but is ready to move forward with all groups willing to participate.
  • Council approved rezoning property owned by the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Community Services Board to allow the HRCSB to construct a short-term stay facility as part of a crisis stabilization program for individuals with short-term mental health crisis.

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5 Responses to “Council Recap: EMU solar plan moves forward”

  1. Renee says:

    Very cool that EMU is going to start using solar energy to power that much of its campus. I hope it works out for them and they really can offset 20%!

    When solar panels become efficient and cost-effective enough, I propose a large chunk of Heritage Oaks golf course be used as a solar farm to supplement the City’s energy usage (and possibly make that land profitable?)
    :)

    On the Linc plan: “The $2.6 million proposal could save the city nearly $200,000 annually” – so the upgrades would take 13 years to pay off? Seems a little high. Before then, much more advanced/efficient technologies will have become available. Not that we should wait and do nothing, but investing in something to save money/energy that takes that long to pay off doesn’t seem quite right.

  2. David Miller says:

    My sincere thanks for covering council meetings!

  3. Emily says:

    On JMU: I really appreciated the SGA President’s appology. It was sincere and well thought out. Mayor Degner’s comments were well stated also.

    On Linc Service: It seems to me that what they laid out is a good program. We are currently spending the money on electricity, water and gas so why not instead spend it on energy upgrads and things that will need to be fixed anyway. It appears that it is a wise use of our taxpayer dollars.

    • Alex Sirney says:

      It should also be noted that the $2.6 million comes from the current operating budget over 15 years – one of the stipulations was that it not cost taxpayers any additional money.

  4. Sarah says:

    I feel the program Linc Service presented was fiscally and environmentally responsible. Since these funds are already being spent on utilities why shouldn’t we use them to upgrade the infrastructure within the city that will need to be upgraded in the near future anyway.

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