SolSmart, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, is awarding a bronze designation to Perry, Iowa for taking important first steps to encourage solar energy growth.
As a SolSmart Bronze designee, Perry is receiving national recognition for adopting programs and practices that make it faster, easier, and cheaper to go solar. A SolSmart designation is a signal that the community is “open for solar business,” helping to attract solar industry investment and generate economic development and local jobs.
To achieve designation, cities and counties take steps to reduce solar “soft costs,” which are non-hardware costs that can increase the time and money it takes to install a solar energy system. Examples of soft costs include planning and zoning; permitting; financing; customer acquisition; and installation labor. Soft costs now represent roughly two-thirds of the total price of an installed residential system. Reducing these costs leads to savings that are passed on to consumers.
Perry has taken specific steps to reduce the soft costs of installing solar energy systems by streamlining the permit process and establishing low solar building permit application fees. The SolSmart designation team, led by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), evaluates communities and awards them points based on the actions they take to reduce soft costs and other barriers to going solar. Communities that take sufficient action are designed either gold, silver, or bronze. As a bronze designee, Perry will now have the opportunity earn additional points to qualify as silver or gold.
As part of the SolSmart program, all participating communities are eligible to request no-cost technical assistance from a team of national solar experts to help them achieve designation. The SolSmart technical assistance team is led by The Solar Foundation.
Launched in April 2016, SolSmart aims to designate 300 communities during the three-year, federally funded program.
SolSmart is a national designation and technical assistance program that recognizes leading solar communities and empowers additional communities to expand their local solar markets. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, SolSmart strives to cut red tape, drive greater solar deployment, and make it possible for even more American homes and businesses to access solar energy to meet their electricity needs. Learn more at SolSmart.org.
About the SunShot Initiative
The U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. Through SunShot, the Energy Department supports efforts by private companies, universities, and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour. Learn more at energy.gov/sunshot.
The City of Perry will be finishing up construction at the intersection of Highway 144 and Willis Avenue the week of May 23rd. The project included new storm sewer, widened radii for truck movements and sidewalk and traffic signalization. The project is currently two weeks ahead of schedule from the June 3rd completion date.
The contractor for the project, Voltmer Inc., has completed all storm sewer and paving operations for both phases. The intersection is open to public travel on Willis Avenue in both directions with a four way stop. Pavement markings for the new lane configurations will begin Thursday, May 19th. The lane configurations will start at Otley Avenue and extend north on Highway 144 to Bateman Street. The new lane configurations will transition from the existing four lane to a three lane section with the middle lane being for left turns. The contractor is expecting to have all traffic poles up and operational by May 20th. They will be setting the signals to flashing red through the weekend to maintain a four way stop.
Starting Monday, May 23rd, the contractor will put the signals into full operation. With upgrading the lane configuration, the signals will also be upgraded to have a yellow flashing arrow for left turn movements.
We ask that all drivers and pedestrians take extra precaution at the intersection when the signals go into full operation.
Please see the image below on the new signals with the flashing yellow arrows.
The City of Perry will begin the 2016 Street Improvements project the week of April 18th. The project includes street improvements for nearly 45 blocks of city streets with all streets involved receiving a new asphalt surface.
The contractor hired for the work is Manatts, Inc. of Brooklyn, Iowa. They are anticipating beginning the work the week of April 18th and will be starting in the eastern areas of the city. There will be some minor disruptions to traffic during the construction, however, those will primarily be limited to the daytime hours only. For those homeowners affected, Manatts will be placing door hangers in advance of the project. If you happen to be a resident that has a vehicle parked on the street and you have been notified of street work, please make sure to move your vehicle before the work begins.
The work will vary in areas of the community with removal of the existing surface, pavement patching and installation of a new asphalt surface. There will be traffic barricades up while work is happening on the selected streets. Access will be limited during the time when work is occurring, but will be open again for traffic at the end of the day. For everyones safety and to help the contractors build a great street, please be respectful of the barricades and avoid the construction areas as much as possible. The duration of the project is expected to last two weeks.
The project cost is over $850,000 and is being funded by the City of Perry’s one cent Local Option Sales Tax and the new 10 cent fuel tax increase approved by State of Iowa in 2015. With the fuel tax increase, the City of Perry receives an additional $130,000 per year in Road Use Tax funds. It is important to City leaders to use these additional funds strictly for street improvements within our community. In order to be financially responsible, a large multi-block project is more cost effective than a smaller overlay project each year. The City of Perry has budgeted approximately $380,000 of our Local Option Sales tax over the next three years to match the $520,000 in Road Use Tax funds to pay for this project. The City’s Local Option Sales Tax Funds are used solely for street projects, capital expenditures, grant matching funds and building and grounds maintenance. The City of Perry will continue to schedule multi-block overlay projects in other areas of our community on a regular basis to be paid with Local Option Sales Tax and Road Use Tax funds.
If you have questions or concerns about this project, please contact the City of Perry at 515-465-2481 or Matt Ferrier with Bolton & Menk, Inc. at 515-233-6100.
With the goal of improving communication between the City and the Citizens of Perry, we will be writing City Project Blog posts to provide updates on the progress of various projects. Check back here often to see how projects are going!
Pattee Park Expansion & Soccer Complex
The City received a very good bid for this project and is able to complete the full build-out. This project includes four soccer fields, a parking lot, and a pond with a paved walking trail. This project is funded by an Iowa Department of Natural Resources REAP grant, Local Option Sales Tax, and generous donations by Tyson Fresh Meats, Perry Soccer Club, ITC Midwest, the Hotel Pattee, and the Bock Family Foundation. Other projects in Pattee Park include new electrical services at the baseball and softball fields, upgraded LED lights and grounds maintenance throughout the park.
1st and Willis Intersection
This Project was made possible by a Traffic Safety Improvement grant from the Iowa Department of Transportation. This project will be starting Monday, April 4th and should be completed by early June. Construction will cause some change in traffic patterns, but directions will be posted. The project will be done in two phases, which will cause closures on Willis Avenue. Detours for these closures will be posted for vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
Willis Avenue Bridge
The Willis Avenue Bridge over Frog Creek will be replaced this summer. This bridge has been on the list of impaired structures for some time and has had a weight restriction. This project was also made possible through a DOT grant. The pedestrian bridges will also be removed and preplaced as part of this reconstruction. The project goes to bid through the DOT in mid-April and should be completed by fall.
The construction of North Street between 16th Street and 18th Street will also be going to bid through the DOT in May. This project has been in the planning phase for nearly ten years and is finally coming to fruition. The North Street project is funded by the Iowa Surface Transportation Program.
Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) Overlay
This will be one of the largest overlay projects in recent history of Perry. Over 55 blocks in town will be seeing a new layer of asphalt. The funding for this project ended up working out perfectly. Last year, the State Passed a ten cent increase in the Road Use Tax that we pay at the pump. This increase brings around $130,000 new dollars into our community. We paired this additional revenue with some of our Local Option Sales Tax funds for the next three years to make the $850,000 project possible. This is a great use of both of these revenue sources and will have a great impact on the quality of our neighborhood streets in town.