This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

City news

Monday's City Council meeting was short and without any big news. The Council approved a street closing for the Eagles but I did not catch the date. They passed a salary ordinance giving City workers a 2.5% wage increase and transferred a few thousand dollars for the Building Department and the Police Department. The gas tracker for October will be a 4¢ decrease per hundred cubic feet.

BIS Recording Systems sent a new quote that included the provisions for streaming meetings over the Internet, which almost doubled the price of the system to about $33,000. There were some questions from Council members and they decided that, given the uncertainties of the budget for next year, to table the item until the first of the year. They also wanted additional quotes from vendors.
The Council approved a $250 donation from the public relations fund to the American Legion for the Thanksgiving dinner. It is open to all and is especially meant for those who do not have family with whom to celebrate the holiday. Two proclamations were read, one establishing Fire Prevention Week and the other Public Power Week. Both run October 7-13. The Fire Department will have an open house on the 28th.

On Tuesday I went to the Alcohol Review Board meeting. On the agenda was the application from Ayda's. However, the meeting did not take place because no board members showed. I then went to the Court House to pay taxes and noticed that the Clerk was setting up the table and equipment for early voting, which begins Wednesday. I noticed people in the Commissioners Room and investigated. Tuesday was the day for the annual tax sale. When a property owner falls behind on mortgage payments, the result is a sheriff's sale. If a property owner falls too far behind on paying his property taxes, the result is a tax sale. There were 24 properties listed in the sale. I suppose it would have been interesting to go to the sale, but it conflicted with another event, the ribbon cutting at the Rensselaer 2 Solar Park.

There was a decent sized crowd at the ribbon cutting. Several people spoke, including Raj Rao, the head of the Indiana Municipal Power Agency (IMPA). He noted that Rensselaer was one of 24 cities that joined together to form IMPA in 1983. Today IMPA serves 61 communities. The estimated lifetime of the solar park is fifty to sixty years. It has 13,891 solar panels and has a rated output of 3.84 megawatts. He noted that IMPA's rates have been declining while those of some investor-owned utilities have been rising. Other speakers were Mayor Wood, State Senator Brian Buchanan, and State Representative Gutwein.
After the talk, it was time to snip the ribbon.
Then tours were provided. The panels tilt on and east-west axis to follow the sun. The angle of the tilt is programmed in a computer to maximize the exposure of the solar cells to sunlight. There are small electric motors that turn the panels. They are not on continuously but rather turn on multiple times an hour to slightly alter the tilt. Below is a picture of one of the motors. It needs to be attached to the pipe below it for it to function. The red things in the picture are guides for the wires that run to inverters.
Inverters convert the DC current of the solar cells to AC, which is what runs in the power lines. Below is a picture of an inverter.
There are many of them in the solar park. Each converts current of a small group of panels.
The power then runs to a box that has circuit breakers, shown on the right below. This allows individual groups of cells to be taken out of service. The power then goes to transformers that step the current up to the voltage of transmission lines. Before the electricity comes to your house, it must go through another transformer that will step the current down to household levels.

Before the electricity goes into the power grid, it needs to go through some switches that I do not understand. The solar park is not yet operational because a key piece of equipment, that will go where the box on the right is, has not yet been delivered. There are several other solar parks ready to go on-line when this little piece of equipment is delivered. It was expected at the end of September but now the delivery date is the end of October.

South of town concrete was being poured on Monday at the Autumn Trace construction site.
Below are a couple more scarecrows from the Scarecrow trail. This one is from one of the high-school or middle school classes.

CI Insurance was one of the last to be installed.
We have had a lot of wind and rain in the past few days and some of the scarecrows have not stood up well to the weather.
The weather will be changing from summer to early winter this week.

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