A southern Illinois community says it's using the power of the sun to treat its wastewater and save taxpayers money.
The City of Pinckneyville unveiled a new solar array at its wastewater treatment plant Friday afternoon.
City Clerk Larry West says it could save the city 500-thousand dollars over the life of the 25-year contract. He says there was no upfront cost to the city because Straight Up Solar installed the panels with the help of investors.
"What happens is the investors will invest into these solar arrays and they will receive all of the tax incentives that do us no good as a municipality because were tax exempt. So, they will grab a hold of all the tax incentives - federal and state. Then, if we over produce, they can sell electricity back to the grid."
Brent Ritzel is with Straight Up Solar and the project manager for the Pinckneyville wastewater treatment facility. He says the power purchase agreement gives the city options in the near future.
"Pinckneyville can go ahead and pay for a lower cost for energy for 25 years, or after seven years, they can go ahead and buy out the system. If they do decide to buy out the system after seven years, then it's basically going to double their return on investment over 25 years."
Ritzel says solar power will meet 90-percent of the facility's energy needs.
West says Pinckneyville is the first southern Illinois community to enter into this kind of deal, but he anticipates more will follow.
"You know how southern Illinois is; nobody likes to be the first one to do anything. I think once they see little ol' Pinckneyville has taken the plunge out there and did this, not only is it good for the city, it's good for the environment."
Ritzel says the facility is expected to go online December 15.
"Really, the final step is Ameren coming out and inspecting it, running some tests, making it sure that it's all electrical compliant and what not and then it'll be energized."