You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.

Ann Arbor to install solar panels at Veterans Park Pool and Fire Station 6

By Ryan J. Stanton

Solar panels are on their way to the Veterans Memorial Park Pool following the Ann Arbor City Council's approval of a contract with Huron Valley Electric.

The city previously approved a contract with the same company for about $50,000 to install solar panels at Fire Station 6 near Briarwood Mall.

The city was planning to purchase the solar panels separately from a manufacturer at a discount and then have Huron Valley Electric install them, but that fell through.


Louis Hoffman, 9, and Yusuke Soya, 10, both of Ann Arbor, react as they stand under a fountain at Veterans Memorial Park pool in this file photo.

Melanie Maxwell I

The action taken by council Monday night increases the contract with Huron Valley Electric by $39,500 and that means the company will both provide and install the solar panels at Station 6 and the pool.

Cresson Slotten, systems planning manager, said the projects are part of the city's matching requirement for a Solar America Cities grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Slotten wrote in a memo to council members before Monday's meeting that the two projects, once completed, will be "highly visible demonstrations of photovoltaic technology."

"Electricity from the installations at Veterans Memorial Park Pool will help to power the pool and ice rink, complementing the existing solar pool heating system," he wrote. "The installations at Fire Station 6 will result in approximately $1,500 in annual savings."

Fire Station 6 could close under a reorganization plan being proposed by Fire Chief Chuck Hubbard.

City Administrator Steve Powers said the restructuring of stations is a proposed plan. Whether the plan proceeds, and in what configuration, will be decided later this year, he said.

"If the building is no longer used as Fire Station 6, there will be another use for the building," he said. "The use will not be cold storage, so energy efficiency upgrades will still make sense, although the payback may be over a longer period of time."

The council previously approved a $43,000 contract with Pranam Global Tech Inc. to construct shade structures at the pool that are to support the solar installation.

The City Council also voted unanimously Monday night to authorize a $39,500 amendment to an agreement with the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum to design and construct a series of mobile solar exhibits as part of the city's Solar America Cities grant.

Ann Arbor was one of 25 cities in the nation designated by the U.S. Department of Energy as a Solar America City in 2007. The federal program has a goal of establishing a core group of cities to serve as examples on how to implement successful solar energy programs.

In July 2007, the federal government awarded Ann Arbor a $200,000 grant to lead an effort to integrate solar energy throughout the Ann Arbor community by 2015.

The city engaged 11 community partners to commit a total of $355,008 in matching funds and in-kind services, making a project total of $555,008.

The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is one of the city's original partners and has worked with the city on other solar energy exhibits, including a display of real-time temperature data from a solar water heater system installed at the downtown fire station.

Andrew Brix, the city's energy programs manager, said the museum also is designing another project for the Farmers Market solar system.

"As a result of this ongoing partnership, Hands-On Museum was designated the best source vendor to complete the mobile solar exhibits work in order to maintain a consistent message and look and feel across the city's solar education efforts," Brix wrote in a memo to council.

Brix said the mobile solar exhibits are a part of the city's efforts to educate residents about the value of solar energy while teaching basic science concepts.

The exhibits will be capable of being easily transported so that they can be moved between different public spaces as needed, Brix said.

Examples of locations where the exhibits might be displayed include library lobbies, city hall, schools and the Mayor's Green Fair, which takes place each year.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


Mike K

Sun, Apr 22, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

David - couldn't agree more! Logged on to ask that specific question. Are they going to buy "inexpensive" Chinese products that have been dumped into our market, or are they going to "invest" in America? Secondly, XMO brings up a fine point. We all know were federal money comes from - the rich, greedy corporations and our kids. The rich and greedy corporations pay the vast majority of income taxes, and the rest is borrowed on our kids' future.


Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 12:14 p.m.

I'm surprised there is such animosity towards this project. One of today's articles is how an oil & gas driller can't promise they won't use fracking here in washtenaw co. Do we care about moving forward with progressive energy, or are we just going to keep using the same energy sources? I'm all about fully funding our public service positions - teachers, fire, police - but in other cities with budget crises it is the pension and employee healthcare costs that are breaking the system, not the yearly costs of the positions themselves.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 10:28 p.m.

Hopefully the solar panels are American-made rather than Chinese.

Heidi Koester

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 10:10 p.m.

I don't know the details of the city's planned solar installation, but we recently installed PV panels at our house, and it is the best home project we've ever done. With just 7 panels, our March electricity purchase from DTE was down 83% from March of the previous year. I'm impressed with how well they work and happy that our purchase of dirtier electricity has been reduced so dramatically.

Mike K

Sun, Apr 22, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.

Average Joe - don't ask questions lol. They interfere with ideology.

average joe

Fri, Apr 20, 2012 : 10:47 a.m.

Two things- 1st- The 30% tax credit you received should be reimbursed to the Feds/DTE from all the money you are saving on your electric bill. 2nd- Why did people 'vote me down' for just asking a question???


Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 3:59 p.m.

Heidi Glad you are happy with your PV solar panels. However, for the city of A2, there are no tax credits since A2 doesn't pay taxes. So payback is 30% longer for A2 taxpayers. Even for you at an approximate net cost of $17,000 ofter your tax credit and $60/month saved on your electric bills (I am trying to be generous on your savings; we are a household of 3 and our total electric bill averages $50/month while giving attention to not being wasteful; turning off lights, heat at 70, A/C at 77), it will take over 20 years for you to break even. There are many other energy saving techniques that can be done that will be a better investment, and won't cost the US Treasury $8,000.

Heidi Koester

Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 12:22 p.m.

There is a 30% federal tax credit on residential energy improvements, including PV panels. So we paid 70% of the cost ourselves. DTE had some sort of incentive program a couple of years ago, but that expired quickly after they reached a pre-determined limit on the total incentives provided.

average joe

Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 10:40 a.m.

Just curious- Was this home project 100% paid for by yourself, or did you receive a grant from DTE/Federal Gov.?

toothless wonder

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 9:29 p.m.

On a side note, we have bonded with our Eskimo dog by learning to howl at all the sirens you hear raging down Huron-Jackson Road each night in their effort to get to the freeway I 94 accidents. He appears to think that there are other packs out there and has learned to yip .. whoop whoop whoop whoop, just like when they cross Seventh, (and all the various sirens.) The dog does a good imitation! I prompt him and my GF joins in . It'd be nice if the City ever opened that Station down by Walgreens again. They'd save 200,000 gallons of diesel it has been estimated, by doing so. What to do with the old abandoned Station, with the new solar panels? Its a good location, its got a pole in there,right? All powered up at night.. Strip Club, called The Fireman's Hat?!


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.

While we're at it why not see if we can get some Federal dollars to pay for training of the police and fireman we no longer have! Everyone knows it doesn't cost US anything we we get FEDERAL dollars to pay for something we don't need!


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 8:43 p.m.

Without a Federal Grant, is the switch to solar really worth it? Like most "GREEN ENERGY" things, pay back is in 20 or 30 years by which time the "GREEN ENERGY" device has broken or fallen apart.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 9:13 p.m.

You hit the nail on the head but you missed the point.....we are going solar with you, the tax payer, footing the bill whether it is cost effective or not. This is the future man, don't be so pessimistic. All of the other tax payer dollars that have been spent are paying dividends in jost created or maintained, right? We just have to get the price of heating your home up to $3000 per month and this will become cost effective. Once we convince evryone and "persuade" the dirty coal companies to shut down their plants people will be begging for this stuff......or rioting, but I digress.............


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 8:20 p.m.

Sounds like a fireman's salary has gone to put solar panels on a fire station that may be closed. Now all we need to do is put the firemen on bikes.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 7:36 p.m.

"If the building is no longer used as Fire Station 6, there will be another use for the building," Just like station 2 ,eh?