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Village exploring possibility of renewable energy uses in municipal buildings

Village exploring possibility of renewable energy uses in municipal buildings

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PLEASANT PRAIRIE — The village is exploring a partnership with an Omaha, Neb.-based company that is conducting a feasibility study to evaluate possible renewable energy uses within its municipal structures, including the RecPlex, government campus and local utilities.

Bluestem Energy Solutions, a developer of low-carbon energy generation facilities, has begun the process of reviewing the village’s energy use, Village Administrator Nathan Thiel said Monday.

The study, for which Pleasant Prairie has no financial or contractual obligation, will include the energy analysis, as well as other data that will then be used to assess the economic feasibility of renewable energy projects to help reduce energy costs, create economic value and increase resiliency.

Thiel said the company is reviewing energy use at the RecPlex, the village’s fitness and community center which includes the IcePlex; utilities such as it’s treatment plant, lift station and pumps; boosters; and four water towers.

“We’d be piloting, but right now the village and Bluestem are reviewing our current energy use and identifying areas that would be good locations for renewable energy,” he said.

Thiel said that, once that happens, it would then study and research to see what would be required to implement renewable energy facilities.

“At that point, they’d install the infrastructure, and we’d purchase that power at a rate they would set and that rate would stay constant,” he said.

The idea to look at renewable energy cost savings was one that carried over from Thiel’s job as administrator in Mauston, Wis. The company had approached him previously.

“They partner with municipalities to look at facilities that use a lot of energy and look for ways they can establish renewables at the facility to ‘buy down’ power,” he said.

Among the renewable energy sources are solar and wind power.

For the RecPlex, for example, it might mean installing a series of solar panels on the roof, Thiel said. Discussions for where a power-generating facility to accommodate the renewable energy use would be located have not taken place yet, he said.

“It’s still very preliminary; they’re doing the researching right now. We’ve shared with them our energy uses and our meters,” he said.

If village trustees and Bluestem determine a renewable energy project in Pleasant Prairie is realistic, development would proceed under a public-private partnership similar to what the company has done with public partners across the United States, company officials said in a release.

Companies including Facebook, Google and Microsoft have committed to or achieved 100 percent renewable energy initiatives in recent years and have adjusted their site selection and energy procurement processes accordingly.

“Bluestem is working in many states across the country, and we have a good idea of which communities are situated for success when it comes to our business model,” Bluestem Energy Consultant Jake Griggs said. “We’re excited to partner with the village of Pleasant Prairie as we work towards creating economic value for the village and its residents.”

Thiel said there are potential benefits for both sides.

“We would have savings on our energy use. We could put the feather in our cap that we’re doing renewable or sustainable energy. Their benefit is they’re doing the energy generation and making profit on the rates,” he said.

Thiel said the village and Bluestem are expected to meet today to discuss the study results.

“It’s gonna be a fun project. But clearly we’re still waiting on answers. Fortunately for us, there’s no costs or obligation on our part,” he said.

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