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Water and Light Commission OKs solar power on entrance signs

WORTHINGTON — The Worthington Public Utilities Water and Light Commission approved funding for solar power to the city’s new entrance signs during its first meeting of the year on Monday.

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After the city council approved moving forward with three new signs last month, the commission decided to move forward with powering those signs with solar energy.

“The signs are being manufactured by Fullerton and Rod Harvey is doing some of the sign work,” Worthington Public Utilities General Manager Scott Hain said. “Based on input from them, we did proceed with a proposal from Backup Power Source Inc. out of Slayton.”

The material cost, according to Hain, is $2,431 per sign, not including installation. Hain said the hope is to be able to use some of WPU’s employees to install the panels.

“Which would be good for us, too — to get some education on how this works,” Hain said.

Hain explained there would be two solar panels mounted in the vicinity of each sign. Each of the panels would be connected to two batteries, which could run for five days when the batteries are full.

The commission also discussed other solar options, including panels on the cart shed at Prairie View Golf Links, but no further decisions were made.

The commission approved a $1,500 sponsorship for the 10th Annual Bioscience Conference, scheduled for April 2-3 and organized by the Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. (WREDC).

A year ago, the commission wanted to see attendance numbers before committing again this year.

“I know last year when we discussed it, I looked back in the minutes, the commission agreed to the $1,500 level and asked me to communicate with the WREDC that we may not continue with future sponsorships if attendance wasn’t improved,” Hain said.

The commission members who attended said the attendance was poor, but that a winter storm prevented many from attending.

This year’s conference will be in the Worthington Event Center.

“I would like to see us go one more year with the Event Center, and I just think we want to try and promote a whole bunch of things,” commission member Ron Wood said. “If we are there in the Event Center, people will be staying in the hotel, and we might be able to promote a better atmosphere. We don’t want to pull the stakes at this moment. I have to admit, the attendance a lot of the times ended up being mostly presenters.”

Wood also said he hopes to keep the partnership with the school-age children.

“I’m hoping they keep the same thing with the college or someplace with the kids,” Wood said. “We are talking about science, and it does promote that. I think we had more kids than we had adults.”

Hain said Abraham Algadi, Manager of the WREDC, has been building interest in the conference.

In other business, Hain showed the commission a mock-up of a new proposed website. The site was designed by a company in Spencer, Iowa.