The project will cost $610,000, of which $50,000 will come out of parking funds. The rest would come from industry partners and state grants, which one of the partners have applied for.
Parking Commission Chairman Mike Williams said it’s a way to add value to the parking ramp and diversify energy sources.
City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn said it’s a good learning opportunity for the city and he’s glad to see the city isn’t the only project sponsor or even the majority sponsor
Commissioners voted 5-0 to provide city funding to match other sources of funding.
The Roberts ramp located just off downtown’s Roberts Street is the city’s newest parking ramp and was designed with “beefed up” electrical systems to accommodate charging stations and solar panels, according to city documents.
The project, based on a similar parking ramp in Oslo, Norway, would include five charging stations on the underused lower level; solar panels on the ramp’s top level, which would also provide shading for cars; charging stations and batteries.
The idea is for the city to generate solar power to sell during periods of peak demand when electricity is at its most expensive and to use the batteries to store power when electricity is at its least expensive. When the cars are not in use, their batteries will be part of this arrangement as well.
The ramp will also be upgraded so it can dim lighting during the day and dim lights in vacant areas at night.
The majority of the funding would come from the state Renewable Energy Program, which would provide a 50-50 match for local funding. A Norwegian artificial intelligence firm, eSmart Systems, and its partner Microsoft, would provide $150,000. The Kilbourne Group, which owns apartments and retail space wrapped around the Roberts ramp, along with Border States Electric, a Fargo-based supplier of electrical equipment; MBN Engineering in Fargo, would provide $65,000. Xcel Energy, the utility, would provide $40,000.
The city would provide $50,000, but city documents show the city would save an estimated $166,200 on power over 10 years.