Solar panels on Sturgis plaza to power city building

Solar panels on Sturgis plaza to power city building


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STURGIS — A new shade structure being installed at the Sturgis Harley-Davidson Rally Point will help power the city’s library.

The 40-watt solar canopy should be operational by mid-June, City Engineer Liz Wunderlich said, explaining that a conduit to harness the energy has been built into one of the columns that will shoulder the canopy structure.

The solar panel idea surfaced after the city went in search of a canopy that would provide shade to people who use the Rally Point during the summer months.

“We have heard continually from residents that we need more shade out there so that the Rally Point can be used more often,” said City Manager Daniel Ainslie. 

Wunderlich said she did some quick temperature tests on the evening of June 9, 2017, that showed the pavement temperature was 113 degrees, while the air temperature was in the mid 80s.

When the Rally Point was originally envisioned, there was supposed to be some shade canopies placed over the area at a cost of about $250,000, said Ainslie.

“At that time, those were eliminated because of the high expense, and the life expectancy was about 10 years,” he said.

Mayor Mark Carstensen said those canopies were just fabric, not solar shades.

Ainslie said since then, the city has been searching for alternative solutions. Because the fabric canopies were expensive, and their longevity was short, the city went in search of a shade structure that had a dual function, he said. They worked with representatives of Black Hills Energy.

“They brought up the point that if we already were building the columns to support the canopies, that it makes more sense that instead of building a typical roof, you put solar panels on it,” Ainslie said.

In the summer of 2017, the city put out requests for proposals for a solar canopy and chose Interconnections Systems, Inc., Central City, Neb., who submitted a bid of $225,000.

The bid included boring the electrical over to the city hall/library building.

“It will reduce the electrical bill at the city hall and library,” Ainslie said. 

Wunderlich estimated the energy savings would add up to about $6,000 a year, and the solar panels last about 20 years, she said.

“There is a little decrease in production over their lifetime, but generally they don’t require much maintenance. They may need to be washed once a year and that’s it,” Wunderlich said.

On April 17, construction crews began work to replace the current columns at Harley-Davidson Rally Point Plaza. Crews with Wilen Masonry of Belle Fourche removed the granite on the outside of the old columns to be used on the new columns that will support the solar shade structure.

The city hoped to have everything in place for the start of the annual Music on Main series beginning June 1, but the completion date has been moved back, Wunderlich said, describing that Harley-Davidson Way in front of the Plaza will be closed for a period of time when Interconnections Systems, Inc., comes in to assemble the shade structure in the street prior to being lifted into place on the new columns. The shade is scheduled to be in place and functioning by the end of June.

Wunderlich is working with the Sturgis Rally Department on relocating the Music on Main event at least one week in June.

“It (Music on Main) might be configured differently, but we don’t anticipate missing one,” she said.

 

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About Craig Ballantyne 15204 Articles
I love anything to do with Harley Davidson and have two beautiful children and a beautiful partner. In my spare time i like building websites and love anything to do with the internet.

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