TIFFIN — The Seneca County Board of Commissioners heard about an opportunity to save money on energy costs from a Palmer Energy representative Thursday.
Palmer Energy partners with the County Commissioners Association of Ohio to help manage a natural gas and electric program for member counties. Seneca County has opted into this program, which is designed to help save money on natural gas and electric bills by using the strength of group buying.
Hoffman said the company is working with CCAO to install a solar array in the state to offer a hedge for counties and cities using Palmer for energy aggregation.
Under the program, about 20-25 percent of energy would be provided through a solar power purchasing agreement by governmental entities. Palmer representatives believe the arrangement could save money over time and could also offer a degree of diversification to the energy portfolio of those involved.
The more counties and cities that use the program, the more beneficial it would become to those entities. The company has about 10 counties committed, and officials expect 25-30 more to enter the program. Several cities also are expected to join the agreement.
The array is expected to be a 200-300-megawatt facility.
Palmer officials believe a carbon tax could be implemented on other energy sources, and so they believe a hedge on solar could be financially beneficial moving forward. They also cited the low price of solar energy as a good reason to diversify energy generation sources.
The commissioners agreed to continue researching the program and to put it on the agenda within the next month to decide if they should opt-in to the solar power hedge.
In other business, Commissioner Mike Kerschner told the board that he visited the Tiffin City Council meeting this week to offer the board’s support for the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area in downtown Tiffin. In May, the board unanimously agreed to offer support for the program.
He said he was encouraged by the “spirit of cooperation and collaboration” between the city and county. Officials hope the DORA helps businesses as they deal with the negative effects of the global pandemic.
In other action, Kerschner, who is a member of the Seneca County Fair Board, thanked the volunteers on the board for finding a way to plan for a fair this year.
“The fabric of our community is based on volunteers like them,” he said. “I’ve been very impressed with that group.”
Also during the meeting, Mike Dittoe, of High Bridge Consulting, updated the board on federal CARES Act money that should be made available to the county soon.
The board approved a resolution last week to enable the county to receive that money to be used to reimburse the county for previously unbudgeted expenses that were caused by the health crisis. Roughly $2 million is expected to be available locally to be split among the county, the cities, the villages and townships.
During County Administrator Stacy Wilson’s report, she said the state office of Budget and Management gave preliminary estimates for 2021 revenues. She said the sales tax, which represents nearly half of the county’s revenue each year, is expected to be down about 13 percent compared to initial estimates.
She also said the county’s sales tax report in June was down by 16 percent compared to 2019. The sales tax has a roughly two-month lag.
In new business, the board approved:
- Setting July 2 at 10:15 a.m. to receive bids for the 2020 CR 592 pavement widening and resurfacing project.
- Accepting the 2020-2021 wage scale for the Seneca County Department of Job and Family Services non-bargaining unit for employees.
- Establishing the Local Coronavirus Relief Fund.
- Establishing the County Coronavirus Relief Distribution Fund.
- The disposal of unneeded, unfit or obsolete property – a 2006 Dodge Charger, on behalf of the Seneca County Department of Job and Family Services. The vehicle was sold for $1,000 of trade-in value.
- Amendment #3 for the engineering services agreement with Stantec for the acquisition of the Newman Property near the Seneca County Airport.
- Accepting the request for proposal and entering into a contract with Henschen and Associates, Inc. for the Seneca County Common Pleas Court Case Management System on behalf of the Seneca County Clerk of Courts.