On Tuesday, May 17, qualified residents of the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District will vote on a proposed $39.7 million capital project, which district officials say will address health and safety concerns and urgent infrastructure needs, modernize learning spaces, and create operational efficiencies. If voters approve the project, the district anticipates that approximately five percent of the project cost would be covered by energy savings generated by a 10-acre solar array that is being built at the Perth campus.
District leaders began looking at opportunities related to solar energy in 2010, when a building conditions survey completed that year by architect Ashley McGraw showed more than $18 million worth of needed renovations, repairs and replacement of various parts of the district’s buildings and grounds. However, the ongoing recession influenced the Board of Education’s decision to delay addressing much of that work.
Knowing that the district would eventually have to address aging systems and worn out facilities, district leaders worked with architect CSArch to issue a request for proposals from various solar companies with an eye toward generating savings to help pay for a future capital project. In February 2016, members of the Board of Education approved an 18-year power purchase agreement with a seven-year extension with Solar Liberty, which will construct a 10-acre, ground-mounted solar array on land adjacent to the Perth campus.
Although a variety of factors affect energy pricing, CSArch estimates Broadalbin-Perth will save as much as $5.3 million on energy costs over the next 25 years. Because the capital construction bond associated with the 2016 capital project would be paid off before the end of that 25-year period, CSArch estimates that Broadalbin-Perth would be able to use approximately $3.6 million in savings from the solar project to help pay for the capital project.
“Even though we expect New York state to cover about 80 percent of the cost of this capital project through state building aid, we recognize this is a significant investment for our community,” said Superintendent of Schools Stephen Tomlinson. “In addition to applying 100 percent of the savings from the solar project to the local share of cost of the capital project, we’re continuing to look at other ways to reduce the cost to taxpayers, including pursuing grants and seeking the most efficient and cost-effective ways to complete the work outlined in the capital project proposal.”
Under the power purchase agreement, energy generated by the photovoltaic 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).
Because there are no capital costs associated with constructing the solar array, there was no need for a public vote on the solar project. This means the system will be operational – and generating savings on the district’s energy bill – well before construction would begin on the 2016 capital project. The district expects the solar array to be operational by the end of December 2016.
Residents are invited to learn more about the capital project proposal during an upcoming public presentation; unless noted, all presentations begin at 6 p.m. in the high school Virtual AP Room, next to the media center:
· Monday, April 4 – Presentation to the B-P Education Foundation (public welcome)
· Tuesday, April 19 – Capital project forum (Margaret Robin Blowers Auditorium at BPHS)
· Monday, May 2 – Presentation to the PTO (TLC Media Center; public welcome)
· Tuesday, May 10 – Presentation on the budget proposal (Margaret Robin Blowers Auditorium at BPHS)
The district is also preparing a publication about the proposal that will be mailed to all households. Information will also be posted to the district website, bpcsd.neric.org/2016-capital-project, and shared on the district’s Facebook and Twitter pages and through the district’s mobile app, which is available for Apple and Android smartphones and tablets.
Residents are invited to submit questions about the capital project proposal to district communications specialist Michele Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org, or anonymously through Patriot Plain Talk at bpcsd.neric.org/patriot-plain-talk. Residents may also contact Kelley with requests for presentations to be made to their community groups.