Macon-Bibb County will become the first municipality in the state to use solar power at some of its government buildings.
The County Commission approved a 20-year agreement with Cherry Street Capital Tuesday to put up solar panels to power the Macon-Bibb County Emergency Management Agency and a Bibb County Sheriff’s Office building. The company will cover costs for the equipment, and Macon-Bibb will pay rates no higher than what Georgia Power now charges, according to the resolution.
The agreement will allow Macon-Bibb to see how renewable energy works on a smaller scale, Mayor Robert Reichert said.
“I think it will send a very positive message being the first in the state to do this,” he said during Tuesday’s precommission meeting.
Cherry Street Capital will install the solar canopies in the parking lot behind the Macon-Bibb County Government Center Annex and the new BSO investigators building in the former Sears store off Third Street. The solar panels will be used to generate electricity in the EMA bunker located outside the government center.
Solar power capabilities in Georgia expanded when state legislators approved a bill in 2015 enabling third parties to place solar panels and sell the energy to municipalities and commercial property owners, said Michael Chanin, CEO of Cherry Street Energy, a development company of Cherry Street Capital.
Fewer than 1 percent of Georgia properties are solar powered, about the same rate as California before that state passed a renewable energy measure about eight years ago. Now, about 30 percent of the Golden State’s electricity is solar generated, Chanin recently told Macon-Bibb officials.
“We’re excited about what will be a wonderful example of (Macon-Bibb) taking the leadership in a sustainable environmental effort,” he said.
In other business Tuesday:
▪ The County Commission approved a new contract with the company that manages two airports.
The agreement with TBI Airport Management allows the company to continue operating the Middle Georgia Regional Airport and Macon Downtown Airport for another five years. The $200,000 yearly contract is about $43,000 more than the current amount that Macon-Bibb pays.
The company has managed the airports since 2007.
▪ Macon-Bibb will spend $176,000 on recycling containers to provide to households.
The County Commission agreed to purchase 4,320 64-gallon bins as part of an expanded recycling program that began in January. Recycling bins and garbage containers will be distributed as people request them on the Macon-Bibb County website under “See, Click, Fix” or by calling Macon-Bibb customer service at 751-7400.
▪ The final phase of a real estate services agreement to find a developer for the Willie C. Hill Government Center Annex building passed Tuesday.
The $65,000 fourth phase of a contract with real estate investment management company Jones Lang Lasalle will include working out details on developing the 62,000-square-foot Cherry Street building that is now home to commercial and government offices.
Macon-Bibb has received proposals from two local groups, with plans to turn the building into mixed-use residential and commercial development and a possible hotel.