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Dubuque mulls more solar panels, works to cut gas emissions

Posted 11:47 a.m. Monday
Updated 11:55 a.m. Monday

— Officials in Dubuque are considering placing solar panels atop more city buildings as they strive to reduce electricity consumption and produce more power without creating climate-warming gases.

The Dubuque City Council is interested in studying the feasibility of installing solar panels on the city's six fire stations as well as the public library and airport, according to the Telegraph Herald (http://bit.ly/2cKVCBi ).

The move follows a 2014 Iowa Supreme Court ruling that found Dubuque's arrangement for producing power from solar panels at its municipal building didn't violate regulations giving Alliant Energy exclusive rights to sell power in the area.

The city has been working to make energy-efficiency changes to its buildings as well as produce more clean power. The goal is to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 50 percent below 2003 levels by 2030.

"We've reduced the waste of energy. Now, let's look at renewable alternatives," said Cori Burbach, the city's sustainable community coordinator.

If officials move ahead with plans, companies would be asked to submit recommendations by late October for placing rooftop solar arrays at the fire stations. The city wouldn't be responsible for upfront costs of installing the arrays.

The solar arrays would be tied into the electrical grid system so buildings could still be powered with conventional power as needed.

"Hopefully, we can get something viable that we can implement," Fire Chief Rick Steines said, noting the stations still would be linked to the electrical grid. "When the sun's not shining or not producing enough energy, we would pull from the grid like we do now. We also have backup generators and systems at place at all fire stations, which would continue."

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