The City of Gatesville held a groundbreaking ceremony for a solar array to be constructed at the Leon Wastewater Treatment Plant on Thursday.
Gatesville City Manager Bill Parry said the machinery at the plant runs nonstop, costing the city nearly $45,000 a year.
The construction of the solar array should cut costs by $15,000 since it will provide 341,222 kWh annually.
"Small community, we're revenue-challenged," Parry said. "So if I can find ways to reduce our costs to provide services to the city, then I don't have to raise rates."
Parry first thought of the idea back in 2015 when he was checking out the plant's sludge holding area.
Sludge is the outcome of wastewater treatment. It's the paper and other gunk that's stripped from the water before it's safe to go into the Leon River.
The sludge is stored on plant property to dry before its taken to a nearby ranch.
"I knew that we needed to cover this to keep some of the rainfall off of it so the sludge can dry properly the way that it was intended to be," Parry said. "When this is wet, I can't haul as much of it in dump trucks and some other stuff as well so it makes that more efficient and again saves money."
A total of 420 panels will be installed throughout the valley just outside the plant as well as on top of the sludge holding area.
The project was made possible by a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Community Enhancement Fund, which supplies money for new facilities that provide renewable energy.
The funds are managed through the Texas Department of Agriculture.
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