Bradenton city hall expands solar project

BRADENTON — The city of Bradenton is getting more green for the money in its effort to lower utility costs with solar energy.

On Wednesday, city council unanimously approved a bid from a Sarasota company to install a solar array on the roof of the City Centre, which houses city hall, the municipal auditorium and the police department.

The bid from Eco Solar Inc. came in so low that the city will have to beef up its order to use all the stimulus money it received from the federal government.

“Solar costs have come down,” Public Works Director Claude Tankersley said. “It’s demand, in part because of the stimulus money. We’re not the only city; a lot of the municipalities and counties in the state are doing the same kind of work.”

Eco Solar Inc.’s bid for a 60-kilowatt system is $310,331.25. That leaves more than 40 percent of the $550,000 grant the city received from the U.S. Department of Energy. The highest of the five bids was $421,000, still well below the grant amount.

Tankersley said he installed a solar unit at his home about a year ago at a cost of $8 per watt. Eco Solar’s bid was for $5 per watt.

City council authorized the public works department to increase the size of the system to reach $550,000.

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