A 10.4-acre solar energy array on the campus of Broadalbin-Perth’s intermediate and middle schools could soon become a reality after members of the Broadalbin-Perth Board of Education approved Solar Liberty as the project developer during their regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 21. The proposed photovoltaic system is expected to save the district as much as $3.7 million in energy costs over the life of the 20-year agreement.
The proposed location of the system is a wooded area on the far side of the Healy Kill creek from behind the Perth campus, on land the district purchased as part of the capital project voters approved in February 2013. The photovoltaic system will be built as part of a 20-year power purchase agreement, with Solar Liberty owning and therefore being responsible for maintaining the system. According to Solar Liberty’s proposal, the array is expected to be complete and operational by the end of December 2016.
Under the power purchase agreement, energy generated by the system will result in a credit to the district’s National Grid account. The district will purchase energy from Solar Liberty at a lower rate, thus generating savings. For example, in the first year, if the photovoltaic system generates 2,000,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) at a credit rate of $0.150 per kWh and the district uses 2,000,000 kWh at a purchase rate of $0.095 per kWh, the district saves $0.055 per kWh – a total of $110,000 in this example ($0.055 per kWh multiplied by 2,000,000 kWh).
According to Superintendent of Schools Stephen Tomlinson, Broadalbin-Perth will use 100 percent of the savings created by the power purchase agreement to offset the local share of the district’s next capital project, which is still being developed but is tentatively scheduled for a public referendum on Tuesday, May 17, 2016, during the annual school budget vote.
Because there are no capital costs associated with the solar project, there is no need for a public referendum. However, residents are encouraged to ask questions about the proposed solar array during upcoming Board of Education meetings (the next is at 6 p.m., Monday, Oct. 19). Additional information about the proposed photovoltaic system is available on the district website, bpcsd.neric.org.