The solar panels at Harley Davidson Rally Point are almost complete, but how do they help the city of Sturgis?
The city of Sturgis completed the Harley Davidson Rally Point two and a half years ago, and since then, it’s seen plenty of activities from weddings to Music on Main to Oktoberfest.
But the city says many people have complained about the space’s lack of shade.
“And really the community gatherings always somewhat suffered because it would be really hot,” Daniel Ainslie said, Sturgis City Manager.
To solve this problem, the city was going to spend a quarter of a million dollars to construct a fabric shade structure over Rally Point, but an employee from Black Hills Energy suggested building a solar canopy shade structure instead.
“Given how deep the footings had to be for the awnings, because the awnings were going to be the same height as what the solar canopy is now and to also make them so that they were wind-resistant, met the snow load and everything else, the footings for the awnings had to be deep enough that they said you know at that point, you might as well put in an actual roof structure over it,” Daniel Ainslie said.
The solar panels will serve a dual purpose, not only providing shade, but saving City Hall and the Public Library five to six thousand dollars in electricity a year.
“Looking at the cost of the solar panels compared to the cost of a fabric structure, truly the cost was probably about five percent more than what the fabric structures would have been, and since we’re able to directly tie it into city hall, the savings for it really made sense,” Daniel Ainslie said.
Sturgis estimates the solar panels will cost about $10,000 more than the original fabric shade design, but Ainslie says they will ultimately help save money in the long-run.
“The fabric shade structures had a life expectancy of about 10 years. The solar panels frankly have a life expectancy of decades and decades,” Daniel Ainslie said.
The city hopes the solar canopy shade structure will be finished by the end of next week.