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Sturgis Township to install solar panels at hall

At left: Rob Stahl, right, a trustee for Sturgis Township Board, presents points in support of installing solar panels at the hall, as supervisor Von Metzger and clerk Mark Bowen listen. Above: Photo of township hall. Photos By Dennis Volkert

By Dennis Volkert

Sturgis Township will pursue installation of solar panels at the township hall, as part of a re-roofing process. 
The township board approved the measure Monday, in a 5-1 vote. Trustee Judy Pappas cast the lone “no” vote.
Wellspring Solar, based in Shipshewana, Ind., was selected to perform the work. The bid is $18,225, with possible federal green-energy tax credit reimbursement up to 30%. 
The panels have a life-expectancy of 50 years, with warranty coverage for 25 years. 
Bids from two other companies were considered. Harvest Solar of Jackson proposed $35,000. Helios Solar of Kalamazoo submitted a bid for slightly more than $24,000. Each had potential tax-reimbursement similar to Wellspring’s arrangement. 
An inspection in 2023 showed the facility’s roof is nearing the end of its life and replacement was recommended. Shetler Roofing of Sturgis will perform that step, at a cost of $19,970, to remove shingles replacing it with metal covering.
Supervisor Von Metzger anticipates installation of solar panels will occur this summer. 
At prior meetings, the board explored whether including solar in the roof-replacement process is a more cost-effective approach, instead of waiting until later and attempting to incorporate it into an existing structure. 
Prior to Monday’s vote, the board held a final discussion about how to proceed. 
Metzger has remained non-committal throughout the discussion process. Clerk Mark Bowen believes it’s a good long-term investment and an appropriate direction. Trustee Rod Stahl has suggested pursuing it.
 “I’m for it. If it’s going to last 40 years, it’s gonna get a lot money saved,” Stahl said Monday. 
Treasurer Zeta Metzger said she is not firmly committed either way, but voted yes. 
“I’m not sure a couple of panels the roof is going to be of much benefit,” she said.
Pappas said she cannot support it.
“I won’t go along with solar,” she told the board.
Following the vote, Pappas inquired about recycling options for panels that may require replacement. Metzger said he will ask the company for details regarding options for disposal. 
In a separate matter Monday, the board decided not to allocate funding to re-stripe township roads, as needed. 
At a previous meeting, Von Metzger asked the board if the township should establish an annual budget for line-painting on roads, and revisited the topic Monday.
He calculated that it would cost about $300 per mile. It would not apply to roads under jurisdiction of MDOT or St. Joseph County Road Commission, only “local” streets.
Metzger said such topics typically are addressed on a “complaint” basis, and so far he has received no inquiries from residents regarding a need for enhancement of road-markings. The board decided it isn’t a priority at the present time. 
Also on Monday, reappointments were approved for several committees and boards. Several have expired and require official go-ahead to continue. The following received approval for reappointment:

  • Jim Cook, chairman, planning commission.
  • Robyn Krawczak, secretary, planning commission.
  • Jim Cook, chairman, zoning board of appeals.
  • Billl Furra and Zeta Metzger, members, zoning board of appeals.

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