Solar panels on new police headquarters would take 1/3 of a century to make good on cost, council hits pause button
Faced with estimates that placing solar panels on the roof of the new police headquarters would take 32 years to start making good on the $2.7 million cost, St. Petersburg City Council members decided to hit the pause button Thursday.
Several council members questioned whether it made better sense to wait for technology to produce more efficient panels in a few years.
“Thirty two year rate of return. That’s not impressive to me,” said council member Jim Kennedy, chairman of the Budget, Finance and Taxation Committee.
Council chairwoman Darden Rice argued that while it might not show up on a spreadsheet, moving forward with the 489 kilowatt solar array on the $79 million new headquarters, made long-term sense. The panels would save the city from burning about 100 tons of coal per year, she said.
“That cost isn’t measured here,” Rice said, waving a sheet of paper showing the return on investment for the solar panels.
St. Petersburg has made a commitment to being a green city, she said.
“It comes back to walking our talk as a city,” Rice said.
Council member Ed Montanari asked why the project couldn’t be delayed altogether, but city officials and architects said it would be cheaper to build the relatively simple infrastructure for the panels and install them later if need be.
Bids on the project are expected to be ready in two week when the committee will take up the issue again.