Solar agreement will relay energy savings to district

sunThe Bethlehem Central School District is poised to save more than $1 million over 20 years through a Power Purchase Agreement that will allow the district to generate energy savings through solar power. The agreement, which was approved by the Board of Education in November 2015, makes the district a partner with Sun Edison Governmental Solutions in installing a field of solar panels off district property that will draw enough power from the sun to cover approximately 80 percent of the district’s electric costs. 

Under the Power Purchase Agreement, or PPA, a 2.1 megawatt solar photovoltaic system will be placed at a site off school property but within the school district’s boundaries. District facilities are not powered directly by the solar panels but instead gain the benefit of the solar array through a process called “remote net metering.” As part of the process, the district receives credits from National Grid for the energy the solar panels produce and that are added to the company’s power grid. 

The district’s Director of Facilities and Operations Gregg Nolte said a signed agreement with Sun Edison is expected to be finalized this summer. The agreement will include an instructional component that will be in place once the solar array is operational sometime in 2017, he said.

“The district is excited that our partnership with Sun Edison will also enhance school curriculum through the use of interactive multimedia,” said Nolte, who co-chairs the district’s Green Team.

Nolte said that once the solar panels are up and running there will be displays or kiosks set up at one or more of the schools that utilize monitoring software to provide insight into the district’s solar array performance.

“Students and staff will be able to follow actual solar energy production, environmental offsets, weather and operating performance on any given day,” said Nolte.  “In addition to other Green Team initiatives that take place throughout the district, we look forward to working with Sun Edison as our renewable energy efforts grow.”