Post Falls sees green in wind, solar

City ready to explore alternative energy sources

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Brent Weisbaum, laborer for RSCI, Inc., bands together a stack of concrete forms Monday after they were used to construct large, round water treatment ditches in Post Falls.

POST FALLS - Exploring alternative energy sources is a priority for the city of Post Falls this year.

"Aside from trying to exit the recession in one piece, sustainability projects will be high on our list this year," City Administrator Eric Keck said.

Keck said the city suspects that both solar and wind energy sources will prove to be worthwhile to implement, saving both the municipality and residents money.

"We have abundant wind on the Rathdrum Prairie, where we own significant acreage either through our lift stations and wells or the land application property," Keck said. "We have also thought for a long time that our new City Hall might provide the opportunity to capture energy from the sun by placing photovoltaic cells on the roof."

Bruce Noble, a former city engineer who now works independently, recently submitted a proposal to the city to study sites suitable for alternative energy development. The study would cost $3,000, plus $600 per site to study solar, $1,500 per site to study wind or $1,800 per site to study both.

"The investment of approximately $15,000 places us on the road to be able to change the way we use and look at our energy consumption," Keck said. "This proposal would be the initial step to help the city move toward a more conscious effort to save and actually produce our own clean sources of energy."

Funding for the study hasn't been identified, "but we plan to try to find it to move forward," Keck said.

He said once the city has solar and wind assessments, it will approach both Avista and the federal government for rebates and funding for projects.

The city has recently moved to more efficient lighting, LED traffic signalization, waste oil burner heating at the new public works shop and used efficient insulation in remodels of both the former Mazda facility and the parks shop facility on Third Avenue. "We are continuing this year to look at the lighting replacement program at some of our older facilities at the water reclamation plant to help save energy and utilize longer-life bulbs," Keck said.

Conservation and sustainability are nothing new to Post Falls.

The city purchased property on the prairie several years ago to land apply a portion of its treated wastewater as an alternative to disposing it all in the Spokane River. It also has a mandatory conservation program for watering lawns and built an energy-efficient City Hall.

"Our new City Hall is seven times bigger than the old building, yet our utility bills are only 10 to 15 percent more," Keck said.

James Marlatt, laborer for RSCI, Inc., top, gives direction as a crane operator lifts construction materials Monday from the site of future wastewater treatment facility at the City of Post Falls Water Division. The new construction will allow increased productivity and efficiency.

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