ALTON - A local business owner proposed several solar installations to power the businesses he owns and Gordon Moore Park to expand the “clean energy portfolio” of the Alton area at last night’s City Council meeting. But with the June 30 deadline for federal grant funding fast approaching, he asked the City of Alton to act quickly in approving these projects.

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Vern Van Hoy said he owns and manages the Rolling Hills Golf Course in Godfrey, Arlington Greens Golf course in Collinsville, Nautilus Fitness Center in Alton, and has leased and operated Spencer T. Olin Golf Course for the last nine years.

Van Hoy said he’s willing to invest to bring solar to each of these properties - as well as Gordon Moore Park - and that he would finance, install, and operate each of the solar array projects.

“I’m a lifetime resident and longtime business owner and operator in this area and community, and I believe in the community and its future,” Van Hoy said. “I’m excited to harness opportunities to support the livability of this area and grow the community’s clean energy portfolio.”

Confirmation on the financing for these projects is set to be confirmed on Wednesday, June 28, and Van Hoy said he plans to start applying for federal grants soon after that to help fund up to 50% of the cost for these projects. To receive the maximum amount of federal grant funding available, those grant applications would need to be turned in by June 30. Van Hoy claimed to have all the paperwork ready to be submitted, and asked for the city’s cooperation in moving these projects forward.

If funding is confirmed, the applications are submitted on time, and the grants are awarded, Van Hoy estimated these solar array projects could be completed and operational by the end of the calendar year. If one of these steps were to fall through, the projects would have to be put on hold until the next fiscal quarter, which would be September 30.

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For the Spencer T. Olin Golf Course and Gordon Moore Park projects, Van Hoy said he’s seeking 2.5 acres of land to build 606 kilowatts worth of solar panels - 260 kW to power the golf course and 346 kW for the park. He also pledged to donate the Gordon Moore Park solar panels to the city at no cost by year 26 of the project, which he estimated could save the city over $5 million in lifetime electricity savings.

At Nautilus Fitness Center, he said he’s seeking 2 acres of landfill property which is touching Nautilus property to build 456 kW of solar panels. He also asked for his leases with the city to be extended from 21 years to 40 years.

“I think I have brought you a solid civic project opportunity that will also help the local small businesses that are committed to building our community's active living,” Van Hoy said.

He later clarified that these projects would not supply power to any residential districts of the city, like the Ameresco planned solar installation on the former Alton Landfill which will distribute residential power through Ameren. Instead, this solar energy will be used to power the businesses he outlined in the meeting as well as Gordon Moore Park. He said the overall goal is to expand the "green energy portfolio" of the local area.

While no specific action was taken at Monday night’s meeting on these projects, Van Hoy said he would work to get additional information and sort out regulatory specifics before presenting these project proposals again at the Alton City Council meeting this Wednesday.

A full recording of the Committee of the Whole meeting can be watched at the top of this story or on the Facebook page.

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