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Missed grant deadline creates uncertain future for solar project at Athens Community Center

By Anne Sinclair
College Green News Staff

The deadline has passed for a grant that would have helped fund the construction of a solar panel array at the Athens Community Center on East State Street.

Officials planned to install solar panels at the site using stimulus dollars from a government grant. While Athens City Council supported the project, it voted down an ordinance Monday that would have allowed the city to create an agreement with Solar Vision, a Columbus-based solar company, to build and maintain the panels.

The initial project proposal simply came too close to the grant application deadline, officials said.

The proposed ordinance would have allowed Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl to use stimulus funds to make an agreement with Solar Vision before today’s application deadline. With the deadline passed, Solar Vision is not likely to receive funding for the proposed project.

According to the presentation Solar Vision gave at Monday’s city council meeting, the company would be responsible for obtaining the grant money for the project, as well as installing and maintaining the solar panels. The city would engage in a 20-year energy contract with Solar Vision.

The panels would create enough energy to support 20 percent of the community center’s needs. Athens would purchase that electricity from Solar Vision, saving about $10,000 annually.

Officials said the future of the project is unknown now that the grant deadline has passed. The project cannot go forward without a source of funding, they said.