Solar power is coming to Cortez’s city government.
During its Tuesday meeting, the city council voted to authorize the mayor to sign a solar lease agreement with Durango-based company Shaw Solar. The council has been considering putting up solar panels on the new City Hall for some time, and at the meeting they voted 6-1 to contract with Shaw, doing business as Solar Garden Partners 2. According to the agreement, the city will essentially be renting the solar array for five years, with annual payments of about $4,100, before buying it outright in the sixth year for $15,682.
City Manager Shane Hale said the plan will allow the city to save money on electricity in the long run. He predicted the investment in solar panels would pay for itself in energy savings within the first few years of the lease. Under the lease agreement, Solar Garden will install the roof-top panels and maintain them at no extra cost, and will also give training to city employees on how to use and care for the solar array.
“I think this is about as good of a structure as possible,” Hale said.
Most of the council members quickly voiced their approval of the agreement, although a few did point out a mistake in wording that scheduled the city’s final payment for 2023, instead of six years from now in 2022. They amended the wording in their motion to approve the lease.
Ty Keel, a city council member who also teaches social studies at Montezuma-Cortez High School, brought several of his students to the meeting so they could see an example of government in action. He thanked the rest of the council on their behalf for approving the solar array, saying it will save money for taxpayers and help the environment.
“I think maybe one of these days, if they’re still sticking around here, they’ll benefit from this kind of action by our city council,” Keel said.
Tim Miller was the only council member to vote against the agreement. Orly Lucero hesitated, but eventually he agreed to vote for it “if it’s going to pay off.”
During Tuesday’s meeting, the council also voted unanimously to appoint Rachel Medina to a vacant spot on the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Advisory Board. She was recommended by Parks and Recreation Director Dean Palmquist, who also mentioned to the high school students in the audience that the board still needs another youth advisory member.
Jill Carlson gave a report to the council about the latest Historic Preservation Board meeting, including Chairwoman Linda Towle’s plan to step down within the next year. Mayor Karen Sheek also gave a report from the latest council workshop.