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Helper concerned about green power

Sun Advocate reporter

Construction on the new Avalon house in Helper is progressing. Although the city has been in support of the project thus far, a new issue has arisen regarding the building's power supply. As part of the project, the La Porte Group, the company in charge of the project, plans to install photovoltaic panels on the building's roof. At times, such panels could completely reduce the building's power usage. This prospect sparked controversy with Mayor Mike Dalpiaz and city council members, because one of Helper's primary revenue sources comes through the city's power grid.

"This is one of Helper's biggest revenue sources; you guys need an ordinance to attack this green energy problem. I'd go to the public service commission and get the regulations," said Dalpiaz.

Council members are also concerned with the possibility that if a large percentage of residents installed such devices, the city's revenue sources would significantly decrease. Another potential problem is that when no electric power is being used by a solar-powered building, the city could experience a negative flow of income if more power is produced than used. However, it was unclear what type of deal exists or whether one is in place for "net metering."

"It kind of makes you wonder what else could happen," said Councilman Kirk Mascaro.

While no motions were made, the council intends to research the issue further for more specifics.

Compensation for Helper fire crews who participate in wildland fires or other emergencies around the city is another issue that has generated ongoing council discussion. Most of the issue revolves around money the helper receives for going to fires outside city limits, and how it should be distributed to city employees who are also fire fighters.

"We have business people losing money when they go on a fire; do we want to support our employees (on a fire?)," asked Dalpiaz.

Also the city approved the Community Impact Board (CIB) priority list, but amended one item in which an underground tank will be replaced, rather than repaired. And, finally, the Lincoln exhibit at the museum was discussed. The exhibit will generate an estimated labor cost of $5 to 6,000.

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