Significant savings and sustainability are the main reasons town leaders have decided to re-purpose the town’s $600,000 solar energy project into picnic tables.
The town’s finance director called the conversion of 601 tax-payer funded solar panels into picnic tables a “win-win.”
The panels, which were installed three years ago, were expected to reduce the town’s energy costs by $50,000 but actually cut energy spending by 57 cents last year.
“Instead of waiting for these things to pay off in 3,754 years, we decided they could provide critical picnic-related help right now,” said Mayor Dave Anderson.
The panels will be moved off the roofs of Town Hall, Coma schools, and town-operated port–potties and be placed in local parks and other picnicking locations. The re-installation is expected to be ready by next summer.
“If they up as soon as possible, we can start saving and picnicking as soon as possible,” Anderson said.
Anderson noted the trend of residents carrying around an ever-larger assortment of snacks, electronic equipment, and sanitary wipes has straining the sustainability of existing picnic tables around town. Recycling the solar panels will save the town “at least” $100 in replacement picnic tables.
“We’re hopeful the savings will slightly lower budget cuts to rescue services and pothole repair while meeting picnicking needs and reducing our carbon footprint,” Anderson said.
The re-purposing will be partially funded by a state picnic table tax credit program.
Over the panels’ 25-year life span, picnic-related savings will be significant, Anderson said.
“Do you have any idea how many picnics are ruined ants?” Anderson said. “Not with these sustainable tables.”
Town officials will use the panels’ real-time Internet tracking tools to monitor their usage by picnics-goers, so they can react quickly to any problems.
“We need to ensure local skateboarders and other hoodlums don’t misuse these tables,” said Councilwoman Natalie Peters. “After all, it’s our solemn duty to safeguard the taxpayers’ investment.”