IBJNews

Companies seek solar-panel lease contracts from city

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A plan to install solar panels on city-owned rooftops is set to be considered Monday evening by the City-County Council.

The city’s Office of Sustainability selected Indianapolis-based Johnson-Melloh Solutions Inc. and Carmel-based Telamon Corp. to install the solar panels after putting out a request last fall.

The companies, working together, plan to lease space on certain city-owned rooftops and sell the electricity generated by the panels to Indianapolis Power & Light Co.

The city will use the money from the lease, as much as $24,000 for each site, to support sustainability projects such as replacing street lamps with more energy-efficient bulbs.

“This is an opportunity to really showcase solar energy in our community,” said John Hazlett, director of the city’s Office of Sustainability, during an April 26 Public Works Committee meeting.

Committee members unanimously approved the lease proposal by a 7-0 vote.

Leases for each site would run for 10 years with a five-year renewal option. The companies would pay the city $10,000 the first year for each lease and $1,000 for each following year.

Hazlett said the companies initially are targeting five locations, but the number could grow to as many as 30. The buildings under consideration are Department of Public Works and Indy Parks properties.

“We’ve got a lot of unused space on the roofs of many municipal buildings,” said City-County Councilor Zach Adamson, a member of the Public Works Committee who favors the agreement. “There’s a whole slew of possible locations.”

Solar panels also could be installed on the ground. But they would be protected by an 8-foot chain-link fence and away from prime park space, said Travis Murphy, Johnson Melloh’s business development manager.

“Our intention is to maximize the roof space if we can,” he told committee members. “We don’t want to take advantage of green space. That would be few and far between.”

The city would have the option of purchasing the solar panels after the leases expire.

The initiative is the third solar-energy project Indianapolis has undertaken. The city has installed solar-thermal systems, which help to heat water, at three parks facilities, and has put solar panels on the downtown City-County building.

Those efforts are part of a push started after Mayor Greg Ballard took office in 2008 to make 61 city-owned buildings more efficient with $18 million in upgrades to lighting, HVAC equipment and building controls.
 
Founded in 2009, Johnson Melloh Solutions is a division of Johnson Melloh Inc., a local mechanical contractor.

Telamon is a technology firm founded in 1985 by Albert Chen.

The two are part of ET Solutions, a joint venture that is leasing space at Indianapolis International Airport for an 11.5-megawatt solar farm on 60 acres at the airport’s entrance. Construction on the project is set to begin in the summer.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • was disclosed
    the terms of this pilot program were made fully public. 100%. nothing being hidden, and yes, rates probably increased by 1% on average.
  • full disclosure needed
    I'd like to see all sides of this for the leaser. $24k to the city, how much for the panels, how much is IPL going to pay for the power? Last figures I saw, the cost per kilowatt from a solar panel (to produce it) was about 4 to 8 times as much as the going rate for power from the electric company. Unless someone is subsidizing this arrangement (and a lot), it makes no financial sense for the leaser.

    Fed tax credit for 30% of the panel cost, Indianapolis credit for permit fees (which may or may not be offset by the lease income), hmm IPL buys at $0.24 per kilowatt and sells residential at $0.06 (or less) per kilowatt. I see who is subsidizing this deal, it is everyone who buys electricity or pays taxes.

    How about full disclosure with these arrangements, Zach? Including lease payments, rebates in permit fees, the Indianapolis program for subsidizing solar power, stuff like that. Show what the true financial arrangements for this deal.
    • RE: More Wasted Tax Dollars
      Zach Adamson:

      You said "This project won't cost the City or the tax payers anything." First, that's redundant, as the City has no money other than taxpayer money. Second, the statement is just false. Look here:
      http://dsireusa.org/incentives/index.cfm?EE=0&RE=0&SPV=0&ST=0§or=Commercial&state=IN&sh=1

      There are Federal and State gifts on that list, so yes, taxpayers lose, probably more thanthe measly income from the leases.

      You make the suggestion that in 15 years the solar systems may be purchased by the taxpayers...as if 15-year old systems would have any value. We should all be on LFTR/MSR by then.

      Is there a clause in the contract that conveys ownership of the systems to the taxpayers, free and clear, if these companies go bankrupt, as may happen when the tax credits and rebates dry up?

      Does IPL get tax credits and/or rebates for buying the solar power?

      Why don't the municipal buildings these systems are installed on just consume the generated power? Perhaps because IPL will pay more for it than what IPL charges the municipal buildings for line power? IPL can pay more with taxpayer subsidy offsetting the difference.
    • Solar Fairy Tale
      Unfortunately, those of you who are so eager to be GREEN have lost sight of the reality that with some ofthe lowest cost in the country for electricity, unless this is subsidized by the government, it will take 30 years for any payback and by then the panels will either be obsolete or requireing alot of capitol for maintenance. This is just another boondoggle to take advantage of government wish list freebies. It is legal but immoral and a burden to the taxpayer. In states where the cost per megawatt of electrcity is high, this is a viable solution. Not in Indiana.
    • win win
      This project wont cost the city or the tax payers anything. In fact, each site that is approved, will bring in $24,000 to the city to fund other projects planned in the office of sustainability for making city building more efficient (saving tax dollars) or saved for the future purchase of the solar equipment after the lease expires. The lease is for 15 years. The developers will sell the power generated to IPL to be sold to its customers.
      Zach Adamson
      City-County Council, At-Large
      • Solar panels.
        If you are interested in using solar panels have a responsible engineering firm design the installation. There are now two different solar panels in use today. One will generate electricity and the other heat. For most commercial installations electric generating panels will help. For commercial buildings additional heat source is necessary in the Indianapolis area but most heat units are disconnected at 45 to 50 degrees ambient because of the heat generated in the building by people, equipment, and lights. Also they only work when there is no heavy cloud cover. Years ago I tried to put solar heat panels on a box store in Indianapolis and it didn't work. On a restaurant in South Bend it worked. (ref: Solar Magazine-May 1980 ).
      • MrGadget
        You were probably reading the wrong article...one about Duke energy plant
      • More Wasted Tax Dollars
        What's this gonna cost tax payers?

        Which campaigns were greased?
      • SOLAR
        Interesting Article.
      • No Brainer
        If you're in IPL or NIPSCO territory, putting solar on your roof is a no-brainer if you have relatively cheap access to cash. There's an immediate payback and you have positive cashflow throughout the 10-15 yr payback. Also, IPL is offering 10-15 yr rate locks on purchase and buyback rates.

      Post a comment to this story

      COMMENTS POLICY
      We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
       
      You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
       
      Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
       
      No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
       
      We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
       

      Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

      Sponsored by
      ADVERTISEMENT

      facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

      Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
      Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
       
      Subscribe to IBJ
      1. If I were a developer I would be looking at the Fountain Square and Fletcher Place neighborhoods instead of Broad Ripple. I would avoid the dysfunctional BRVA with all of their headaches. It's like deciding between a Blackberry or an iPhone 5s smartphone. BR is greatly in need of updates. It has become stale and outdated. Whereas Fountain Square, Fletcher Place and Mass Ave have become the "new" Broad Ripples. Every time I see people on the strip in BR on the weekend I want to ask them, "How is it you are not familiar with Fountain Square or Mass Ave? You have choices and you choose BR?" Long vacant storefronts like the old Scholar's Inn Bake House and ZA, both on prominent corners, hurt the village's image. Many business on the strip could use updated facades. Cigarette butt covered sidewalks and graffiti covered walls don't help either. The whole strip just looks like it needs to be power washed. I know there is more to the BRV than the 700-1100 blocks of Broad Ripple Ave, but that is what people see when they think of BR. It will always be a nice place live, but is quickly becoming a not-so-nice place to visit.

      2. I sure hope so and would gladly join a law suit against them. They flat out rob people and their little punk scam artist telephone losers actually enjoy it. I would love to run into one of them some day!!

      3. Biggest scam ever!! Took 307 out of my bank ac count. Never received a single call! They prey on new small business and flat out rob them! Do not sign up with these thieves. I filed a complaint with the ftc. I suggest doing the same ic they robbed you too.

      4. Woohoo! We're #200!!! Absolutely disgusting. Bring on the congestion. Indianapolis NEEDS it.

      5. So Westfield invested about $30M in developing Grand Park and attendance to date is good enough that local hotel can't meet the demand. Carmel invested $180M in the Palladium - which generates zero hotel demand for its casino acts. Which Mayor made the better decision?

      ADVERTISEMENT