A question from city power purchasing agent Central Municipal Power Agency/Services (CMPAS) as to whether the City of Granite Falls was interested in investigating possibilities for a community solar installation within city limits was answered in the affirmatively by unanimous resolution during the Granite Falls City Council meeting Monday evening.

A question from city power purchasing agent Central Municipal Power Agency/Services  (CMPAS) as to whether the City of Granite Falls was interested in investigating possibilities for a community solar installation within city limits was answered in the affirmatively by unanimous resolution during the Granite Falls City Council meeting Monday evening.

According to a letter from CMPAS as, the organization has received interest from several members to have the agency sponsor the development of a Community Solar Project where participating members are able to sell solar subscriptions to their retail customers.

At present, solar is still viewed as a more expensive alternative energy but there are a number of potential strategies that may be applied to help reduce cost including local installation and maximizing project scale. Additionally, CMMPA information pointed out that preemptive city action would help to curtail outside development of the potential asset.

“In attempt to mitigate the possible negative impacts of cross-subsidization of the future proliferation of distributed solar and help position municipals to protect against the even greater threat of third party aggregators ... eroding a municipals revenue base, municipals need to consider proactively developing a community solar program of their own,” said a CMPAS  letter. “Developing a municipal community solar program will allow the municipals to protect its customer base, minimizing the potential negative cross subsidization impacts and continuing to build a strong customer relationship.”

According to Utility meeting minutes, the city hopes to find out such questions as those involving potential project costs, land requirements, location potentials and whether subscribers would be interested in the investment.

Said Mayor Dave Smiglewski, “It’s the first step in a process that at this point entails little risk.

“I don’t think we should miss the boat on this,” noted councilman DuWayne Gallow.

In other news:
•Ted Thull came before the council to update to city officials on his efforts to address structural modifications that he will be required to make in order to earn a building permit for a residential structure near Highland Park that at one time he had hoped would be his dream home.

The project has been in the works for 16 years, in large part because of code changes that served to invalidate some of Thull's building methods after he halted the project in 2001, and thus require fixing before the city building inspector is able to sign off on the project.

An engineering inspection financed by Thull stated that the foundation was structurally sound but also identified a need for him to replace 24 trusses at a cost of an estimated $40,000 before the structure would be up to code and made available for sale or occupancy.
At this point, Thull says he has $100,000 invested in the home and is working to pull together the funds he would need to finish the project.

The council responded that it would still proceed with its present course to tear down the structure, however he would have the opportunity to come before the council and share his progress in two weeks.  

•Council members moved to reappoint city, airport and electrical engineer services of Berryman and Roderberg, Montevideo; Bolton and Menk, Willmar; and HDR Engineering, Minneapolis respectively.

•Council reapproved the rehire of Greg Holmstrom and Assistant Spencer Kvam to serve as city attorney.

The city expended $81,749 for legal services in 2015, up from $71,765 in 2014 and $60,326 in 2004. According to staff information, the most significant expenditure for the city continues to be that brought on by criminal activity. There was no proposed increase to rates.

•In accordance with state statute, council members approved a resolution of intent to proceed with a policy adopted by the city this past November that will allow it to reclaim/reacquire cemetery lots not in use for over 60 years. According to staff information, state statute further dictates that the resolution of intent be published for three weeks in the city's official publication and then allow for another 60 days before the process is deemed complete.

•Council approved the following organizational support donations:
Southwest Initiative Foundation: $1,250
Minnesota Prairie Waters Convention and Tourism Bureau: $1,250
Granite Area Arts Council: $1,250
Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway Alliance: $100
At the request of Water Plant Superintendent Mike Enstad the city approved the allocation of $11,250 in funds to replace a 2000 truck.