ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU)-- Altoona makes a big investment in renewable energy Tuesday night as city leaders vote to spend just shy of $300,000 to use the power of the sun to save taxpayers money.
Altoona’s City Council moved to purchase more than 450 solar panels through Eau Claire Energy Cooperatives Member Solar program.
The city says the investment will help power everything from city water pumps to stop lights on the city's south and east sides.
“The solar panel program locks you into a current rate for 20 years. So what we are doing is investing $299,000 but we think that will be fully amortized at the end of 15 years so the last 5 years we will realize savings by being locked into that rate,” Altoona City Administrator Mike Golat explained.
While Golat couldn’t put an exact dollar amount to the savings he says the move will provide tax payers and the city a good return for the investment.
“It puts our money where our mouth is to provide our commitment to green energy and also it's a commitment for the tax payers because the return we do get on the investment at the end of 15 years,” he added.
The City of Altoona purchased enough solar panels through the program to power 75% of the city’s energy usage on the city's south and east sides.
The CEO of Eau Claire Energy Co-Op, Lynn Thompson, says that's a big statement on the part of the City of Altoona.
“I think the statement that the City of Altoona is making is they support local green initiatives and this is a very sustainable energy source for them,” Thompson said.
Thompson says to date; Altoona is the largest municipality in the Chippewa Valley to buy into the cooperatives solar program. He did add that so far the Town of Wilson, the City of Eau Claire and Eau Claire County have bought into the solar program but on a much smaller scale in comparison to the City of Altoona.