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Mayor Flips Ceremonial Switch as City Hall Begins Realizing Solar Power Benefits

Bloomington, Ind. - Today, Mayor John Hamilton flipped the ceremonial switch to officially begin realizing the benefits of solar power for City Hall. In late July, the mayor announced plans to install photovoltaic installations citywide, capable of producing five megawatts of solar power.Today’s flip of a switch represents another step in the journey of lowering the City’s carbon footprint.

“The City of Bloomington is undertaking a responsible and proactive approach to energy management by thoroughly evaluating opportunities to reduce costs, become more efficient, and modernize infrastructure,” the mayor commented at a press conference Thursday.

Contractors from Energy Systems Group (ESG) are in the process of installing over 15,000 solar panels in 30 City-managed locations. Today the project is more than 65% complete, with some locations already generating solar power. As part of the overall City solar project, the City has submitted interconnection agreements to local utility partner Duke Energy on six City sites, with City Hall and Bloomington Police Department headquarters among the first two buildings to be “energized.”

Of the 30 City sites that eventually will generate solar energy, 22 will be participating under the net metering legislation put forth by Senate Bill 309. This Indiana bill, which went into effect July 1, allows for utility customers to receive original net metering benefits for 30 years for solar systems installed by December 31, 2017. Solar systems installed after December 31, 2017, through December 31, 2022, only will receive net metering benefits through 2032.

Due in part to the City’s efforts as well as the Solarize Bloomington initiative, the number of Monroe County residential solar owners jumped from 200 in 2015 to over 400 in 2017.  According to Duke Energy, 40% of its net metering customers are in Monroe County, outpacing every other county in Duke’s service area, which encompasses more than 60 counties. A conservative analysis by the Southern Indiana Renewable Energy Network (SIREN) estimates that at least 10% of the state’s solar energy is produced in Monroe County.

Mayor Hamilton pointed out that through a successful partnership with Indiana-based ESG, the City’s $13 million solar endeavor is secured through a Guaranteed Energy Savings Contract (GESC). The GESC guarantees a return on investment within twenty years; should electricity production from the panels not generate as engineered, ESG will reconcile accounts to make the City whole for any shortfalls.

“We will generate locally sourced energy, boost economic development, and participate in net metering, keeping Bloomington money in Bloomington,” said the mayor.