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Solar panels approved

Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved construction of solar panels in Phase II of McFee Park after much discussion on the pros and cons of the panels.

“It seems to me it would help the Town’s ‘green’ image,” Vice Mayor Dot LaMarche said.

The solar panels were an “add-alternate” on a contract to construct pavilions, extra parking and a splash pad at the Town’s newest park off McFee Road.

The main contract, from lowest bidder Christopoulos & Kennedy, came in at a cost of $1,494,277.

Installation of the solar panels would add $69,200 to the main contract.

The solar panels met with criticism from the Board in a meeting last year, when the panels were estimated to cost between $100,000 and $120,000.

“As I recall, when it was first brought before us, a significantly higher number was mentioned … which would have been totally unreasonable,” Alderman Bob Markli said.

“I think there are going to be people who think the $69,000 is unreasonable,” Mayor Ralph McGill said.

McGill asked what the lifetime of a solar panel is.

“What good is a solar panel whose payback is 15 years if it only has a lifetime of 10?” Alderman John Williams added.

Jennifer Salyer, of Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon, said lifetime depended on the vendor of the product.

Christos Christopoulos, representative of the lowest bidding company, said most panels have a minimum lifespan of 20 years, adding the vendor of the panels would provide maintenance to the panels.

McGill asked if birds on the roof could damage the panels, and Williams asked the same question of kids bouncing balls off the roof.

“These things are not that fragile,” Christopoulos said.

He also agreed with LaMarche, saying the solar panels would aid the Town’s “green” image.

“I think this really falls under … what you want to represent yourself as,” Christopoulos said.

“You can do all the number crunching you want, but what it really comes down to is if you want to be a green community,” he added.

Markli reminded the Board that design costs for the solar panels already had been paid.

“Payback is probably going to be under 15 years, with a 20 year expected life of these panels.

“We can probably remove several tons of hydro-carbon emissions from the atmosphere. It’s probably a win-win all the way around,” he added.

Alderman Jeff Elliott moved to approve the contract to Christopoulos & Kennedy with the add-alternate; LaMarche seconded.

The motion was unanimously approved.

In other business, the Board:

• Approved an on/off premise beer permit for Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar, 11431 Parkside Drive

• Amended the fiscal year 2010 capital improvement plan budget.


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