The commissioners during a special meeting Tuesday, March 5, told Shelby Ruff, vice president of Meridian Solar of Austin to apply for the $250,000 grant that would outfit the courthouse with 200 to 220 solar panels.
The panels would be mounted on carports over about 20 to 25 existing parking spaces on the east side of the courthouse.
The height of the carports is flexible.
SECO pays 80 percent of the grant, and Refugio County would pay the remaining 20 percent or about $50,000.
The panels would be about a 57 KW system, and would produce 80,000 kw hours a year.
Savings would range from $5,600 the first year up to $14,000 in the 25th year.
The Refugio County Courthouse will earn more than $141,000 in profit over the 25-year investment, and pure profit for the last 15 years under warranty. The panels should last another 20-plus years, as long as they are maintained each year, according to Ruff.
Ruff said the county would break even in 10 years.
“It’s pure profit from that point on,” he said.
Refugio County spent $44,467 last year on its energy bill.
Commissioner Gary Bourland said solar panel energy “would pretty well pay for itself.”
Ruff emphasized the solar panels would only supplement the county courthouse energy bill.
And if it over produced, it would roll over to the next day.
Ruff said the deadline to apply for the grant is March 15. And the project has to be built and installed by the end of August.
Ruff also said the solar energy panels could serve as an educational display for schools.
Meridian Solar has done work for H-E-B, jails and other governmental entities, Starbucks, Weslaco Waste Water System La Feria, and others.
Ruff said once the grant is awarded, he would be back to visit the commissioners about contracts.
“It would be 10 to 12 days to get equipment and two to three weeks after that at the very most to finish.
“We will decide how to fund our portion with the court if the grant is approved,” said County Judge Rene Mascorro.
In other business, commissioners approved $6,500 to fix the Refugio County Airport fence. The money would be taken from the airport grant fund.
Also, a discussion ensued about illegal dumping.
Commissioner Ann Lopez made a motion to adopt the state’s health and safety code 365.012 through 365.015 and create an interlocal agreement with municipalities for law enforcement when county resources are low.
Illegal dumping had occurred at 707 to 710 E. Santiago St. And a contract for $2,000 was made between the landowner and the subcontractor tearing the old Zarsky’s building down.
Ten dump trucks of debris had been taken to the site when Lopez asked Sheriff Robert Bolcik to issue a citation.
Lopez said she got the indication Bolcik couldn’t do anything about the dumping.
Bolcik said that same day deputies visited the site and informed the subcontractor it was illegal and that they had to remove the debris.
The debris was removed the following day.
Under state law, only authorized dump sites or dumpsters can be used.
County Judge Mascorro said he was seconding the motion to encourage law enforcement to work together as a team.
The vote was 3-2 for the motion. Voting against the motion was commissioners Stanley Tuttle and Gary Bourland.
The interlocal agreement will have to be approved by the cities of Refugio and Woodsboro.
And law officers in the cities would still have to ask permission from Bolcik to intervene on cases.
Bolcik said a formal agreement for law enforcement agencies wasn’t needed because the agencies already work together.