Council to look at solar project

The Ashland City Council will consider whether to exempt a proposed community solar project from competitive bidding.

The council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Ashland Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main St.

In 2006, the City of Ashland received permission from the Internal Revenue Service to sell up to $500,000 in federal Clean Renewable Energy Bonds to finance a solar system on city buildings.

Under a preliminary plan, electric customers could voluntarily invest in the solar system and receive credit on their electric bills for the energy their share of the system generates.

The Ashland Electric Department would have to pay for any shortfall in funding the solar system if enough customers don't join the effort.

In May, the city put the solar system project out for bid, but only received two bids. Neither bid met bonding requirements mandated by state public purchasing rules, according to a memo to the council from Electric Department Director Dick Wanderscheid.

Wanderscheid is proposing that the city re-bid the project, but change the criteria.

The bonding requirement for performance would be replaced by a warranty requirement for the system's energy output. Factors other than cost, such as the bidder's experience with similar systems, could also be taken into consideration.

"Re-bidding the project does not commit the city to build the system, but allows us to prepare should we decide to proceed on this project," Wanderscheid noted in the memo.

Some councilors have expressed concerns about the cost of the project.

In other business Tuesday night, the council will hear an update on the status of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's plans to replace its brick courtyard.

The council will also hear an appeal of a construction project at 720 Grandview Drive.

Other agenda items include prioritizing potential Ashland Public Library services in case voters approve a city levy in September to reopen the library, and considering whether to hire a recruitment firm and increase the salary for the vacant city attorney position.

For a complete list of agenda items and for detailed information on items, visit /Page.asp?NavID=10335.

The council will meet in an executive session, which is closed to the public, at 6 p.m. to discuss litigation and an employment issue.

The Ashland Community Hospital Board of Directors will give its annual presentation to the council at 6:45 p.m. in an open session.

Staff writer can be reached at 479-8199 or

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