Belpre looks at installing solar panels

BELPRE — The city of Belpre is taking steps to install a solar energy system at the Belpre Fire Station on Washington Boulevard.

At Monday’s meeting of Belpre City Council, the first reading of a resolution allowing the mayor and safety-service director to execute a contract with Pickering Energy Solutions LLC was approved unanimously.

Once the second and third readings are approved, the project should be able to move forward and will only take a few days to install the system, said Mayor Mike Lorentz. The system will be newer but will be similar to solar panels installed at the Belpre Municipal Building several years ago which provide electricity for the Belpre Police Department’s daytime operations.

The project, which should be completed soon after the first of the year pending council approval, will be done at no cost to the city, with the city and Pickering sharing the cost savings, Lorentz said.

In other business, council approved the final reading of an ordinance which will institute soft billing for emergency and non-emergency services by the Belpre Volunteer Fire Department.

Officials said the purpose of the ordinance is to provide a way to collect insurance money that is paid to a homeowner on top of their other insurance coverage for runs to fires or emergencies. The amount that is billed is the amount the insurance company would pay to the landowner or to the fire department for those services and is already part of what the landowner pays for as part of their insurance.

If there is no billing to the insurance company for that money, it doesn’t get paid to anyone. It’s an obligation of the policy to pay it but if nobody bills it, it just stays in the insurance company’s coffers, officials said. Under the soft billing ordinance, if a person doesn’t have insurance they will not receive a bill.

Council approved the final readings of a resolution for a joint project with the Ohio Department of Transportation. The state agency plans to upgrade the traffic signals at Ohio 7 and Braun Road, Ohio 7 and Farson Street and Ohio 618 and Lee Street.

Council approved the first reading of a resolution to increase the maximum age at which the Belpre Police Department can hire person to work as a patrolman from 35 to 40 years.