Land leased for solar energy project

ESCANABA — The Delta County Board of Commissioners authorized a lease agreement for 12.55 acres of county-owned land between the county and the city of Escanaba during its regular meeting Tuesday. The agreement will allow for the construction of a 1.16 megawatt DC solar energy project at the Delta County Airport.

Last month, the Escanaba City Council approved a recommendation from the Electrical Advisory Committee allowing the city’s electrical department to move forward with the construction of the project this year.

The 30-year lease agreement between Delta County and the city of Escanaba authorized by the board Tuesday will last from June 1, 2018, to June 1, 2048. The city will pay the county $295 per acre per year to rent the land; this rate will increase by 3 percent every five years. Additionally, the city has the option of extending the lease for additional five-year periods up to a total of another 30 years.

Delta County Administrator Philip Strom noted the lease gives Delta County a six-month option to purchase up to 500 solar panels.

“It would be a benefit financially, and … on a community-building standpoint, as well,” he said.

In other business, the board:

– supported language for millage requests from the Delta Area Transit Authority (DATA). The language will be included on the Aug. 7 ballot in the townships of Bark River, Bay de Noc, Cornell, and Escanaba.

Each of DATA’s requests calls for millages of 0.5 mills, which would be levied for a period of five years if approved by voters. With the exception of DATA’s Escanaba Township request, which is for a renewal of an existing millage, all of these requests are for new millages.

– heard an update on UPPCO’s request for a utility easement at Pioneer Trail Park from Delta Conservation District Executive Director Rory Mattson.

– tabled a request to officially name 1,400 acres of county-owned land in Cornell Township. Commissioners will submit potential names for this property to Strom over the coming weeks, and names will be voted on at the board’s June 5 meeting.

– approved deficit elimination plans for the Juvenile Drug Grant Fund and the Drug Enforcement Fund.

– heard from Commissioner Theresa Nelson and Vice-Chair Patrick Johnson about their experiences at the Upper Peninsula Association of County Commissioners Spring Conference. The event was held last Thursday and Friday at the Island Resort and Casino in Harris.