Augusta, GA (WJBF) – There are about six acres going to waste at the Augusta Sewer Treatment Plant, but it could be put to use for solar power without the city cracking a sweat.
“When you have a private developer who’s willing to come in and give us $25,000 to $30,000 a year for 25 years, and we don’t have to do nothing,” said Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle.
The possible pennies from heaven is why Augusta Commissioners are taking another look at getting involved in a solar power project.
“We’re right back on where we should be, for the most part, we simply do have some property available that we can lease to a company that wants to compensate us a result of creating solar power on our property,” said Commissioner Ben Hasan.
Two weeks ago, Augusta Commissioners rejected a proposal to spend more than $2 million to build a solar project and collect revenue selling back the energy, but the city now wants to turn that over to a private company renting city land.
“Self-funding…we generated more revenue, but we had more exposure financially by having a private developer. We have no out-of-pocket costs and we have all upside,” said Augusta Environmental Services Department director Mark Johnson.
“Sooner or later, we’ll have to do it because everybody else is doing it. They realize that solar not only gives up clean energy, it creates jobs,” said Commissioner Bill Lockett.
“We could get $25,000 to $30,000 return on investment per year…just be letting them use the underutilized land and becoming green,” said Guilfoyle.
Mark Johnson says several developers have already reached out to the city and have shown interest in the project, and if the full Commission goes along, it’s hoped that a solar project could be up and running on city property before the end of the year.