Powell will use an $821,861 grant to light up city facilities.

Powell will use an $821,861 grant to light up city facilities.

The money comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Awards for Local Governments.

The bulk of the money will be spent on a 77-kilowatt solar electric system. Installed on the roof of the municipal building, it is expected to produce half the electricity used in the building.

The grant also will fund energy-saving upgrades including the installation of LED and light sensors on city property, plus energy-efficient improvements on the parks and rec facility in Adventure Park, a city press release of March 23 said.

The city anticipates saving $18,500 on its annual electric bill for the municipal building, 47 Hall St., said city development planner, Eric Fischer.

He said the city pays about $44,000 annually for electricity used in that building, which is about 550,000 kilowatt hours annually.

Fischer said the savings is a conservative estimate.

"I suspect that the actual savings will be higher after we have a chance to observe our usage after the project is complete," Fischer wrote in an e-mail. "There is also savings on bulb replacements and labor for replacing bulbs, (because) LEDs last much longer than conventional fluorescent bulbs. There will also be a savings at 260 Village Park Drive. Overall, I could see our savings after all the activities are completed to be around $30,000 per year."

Fischer estimated the work will be completed in 2011, though the grant provides for a July 2012 completion date.

"By saving energy, we'll be saving money, and this grant is a great example of the city's dedication to conservation," city manager Steve Lutz said in the press release. "We want to be smart with our resources and with our taxpayers' dollars."

Lutz commended Fischer and building inspector Len Baldwin "who were instrumental in preparing the application that secured this grant." They began working on obtaining the grant last year.

"The photovoltaic (solar) system will supplement our electricity usage from AEP," Fischer said. "Another advantage is that we would still be able to produce electricity for emergency purposes if the grid goes down for any reason during the day."

Powell's project is among 28 in Ohio to share $15-million in grant awards funded through that particular ARRA program, a press release from Governor Ted Strickland's office said. The awards are part of the total $25-million allocated to Ohio through the block grants.

The city will now work with the Ohio Department of Development Energy Resources Division on how to move forward with the project. The federal grants were dispersed through the ODOT.