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Cheney to revisit solar energy program


Cheney may once again consider getting into the solar energy game.

In citizen comments at the City Council’s May 27 meeting, Fish Lake-area resident Jerry Krause asked the city to reconsider its decision several years ago to not take part in a state program that would have allowed residents to access monetary incentives for using or producing electricity from solar energy. Krause, a 45-year resident who doesn’t live in the city but is on the city’s electrical grid said he has been involved in alternative energy since 1975 and his research leads him to believe solar power is the most efficient of the renewable energy sources. It’s also an energy source that produces a payback to the household implementing a system of just five years, as compared to other renewables with longer timeframes.

According to the Washington Administrative Code, the program allows an incentive payment based on production to offset the costs associated with the purchase of renewable energy systems located in Washington state that generate electricity. Renewable energy systems include solar as well as wind-based systems.

Most of the council members were unaware the city did not participate in such a program. Mayor Tom Trulove explained that the city chose not to do so several years ago because of costs to the city associated with the program.

“It also has implications to what you charge Cheney residents for electricity,” he added.

Trulove said the program is easier for utilities larger than Cheney to implement because they can spread the costs around. But he also agreed with Councilman Graeme Webster and others that participating in the program was worth a second look, although no timeframe was set for such a review.

In action items, the council unanimously approved the purchase of a new work order system that would enable workers in city utilities to conduct repairs quicker and more efficiently. The $19,092.60 system, as detailed in a May 22 Cheney Free Press story, is composed of software that will meld easily with current city systems and incorporate positioning data accumulated the past six years as to the location, types and other descriptions of equipment in the city.

The system also includes purchasing of 15 Apple iPads for city workers use in accessing work order information, filing in field work orders, accessing equipment manuals and other functions. The system will also enable management to create quicker and more detailed reports to review efficiencies and analyze problem areas.

The council also unanimously approved amending a July 2013 contract with Intrinium for city computer system virus and hacking protection and web filtering to include remote backup services for the city’s 14 servers. Finance Director Cindy Niemeier said it was determined that remote backup would cost less than onsite methods, adding $630 a month to the existing $29,340 contract.

John McCallum can be reached at

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