Installment of solar panels to save city $10,000 a year

City paid for solar panels, installment with help from two grants; total project cost about $549,167



Pullman City Hall now has solar panels installed on its roof. The panels are estimated to last for more than 30 years.

ANDREA GONZALEZ, Evergreen reporter

The City of Pullman finished the installment of solar panels for the new City Hall and Parks, Facilities and Recreation building in downtown.

Kevin Gardes, City of Pullman public works director, said there has been a discussion of installing solar panels but the city needed to find a suitable site to install them. 

The solar panels will help offset the electricity use and cost at the new City Hall and Parks, Facilities and Recreation building, he said. The solar panels will be saving the city approximately $10,000 a year and are estimated to last more than 30 years.

Scott Lewis, account manager for the Apollo Solutions Group, said the group began working with the city in 2018. 

The Apollo Solutions Group helped engineer the project, provided preliminary assessments to see if a project was feasible, acted as the general contractor, and worked with the energy program from Washington State Department of Enterprise Services, he said. 

The group applied for grants in 2019 on behalf of the city for the solar panel project. 

Lewis said the total project cost about $549,167. The city received two grants to help cover the cost and paid $124,667 out of pocket. 

Gardes said the grants came from the TransAlta Centralia Coal Transition Board and the Washington State Department of Commerce. 

Lewis said the grant from the department of commerce covered $183,000 of the total cost while the grant from TransAlta Energy Technology covered $260,000.

The calculated electrical production for the solar panels will be about 98,320 kilowatt hours per year, he said. 

Gardes said the proposal to add solar panels was brought to Pullman City Council and they unanimously voted to go through with the project. The grant agreements were also brought to the council for approval. 

Lewis said the City of Pullman entered into a net metering agreement with Avista Utilities. This means the city gets credit for the amount of electricity that the solar array is producing.

Gardes said one difficult aspect of the project was making sure the buildings can support the weight of the solar panels. 

The solar panels were installed on top of the buildings rather than the ground because the buildings’ roofs could support the solar panels and it would preserve surrounding land, Gardes said. 

“The city is committed to continuing to lower its greenhouse gas emission footprint,” he said.