Summit School District eyeing solar panels |

Summit School District eyeing solar panels

Kathryn Turner
summit daily news

Certain Summit School District sites could see solar panels in the near future.

The Summit School District Board of Education gave approval earlier this week to hold a series of community meetings, starting later this month, to gauge the public’s interest in four new solar panel sites: the Summit High School fieldhouse, Summit Middle School, the district’s facilities building and Summit Cove Elementary. It’s estimated the new arrays would save the district more than $11,000 in their first year of operation.

“There’s a lot of schools going solar right now,” said Joe Steenbergen of Syndicated Solar in Denver. The company, along with Summit County-based Innovative Energy, presented the board with the logistics, and proposed savings, earlier this week. “A lot of them are going solar because it saves them money.”

Because of inflation, obsolete grid infrastructure, the decommissioning of power plants and upgrades to power producing facilities, current electricity prices will continue to rise, Steenbergen said, who estimated they will be two to three times bigger in the next 20 years.

In the past year, the district spent $75,572.23 in electricity for the four selected meters; Steenbergen estimates the cost with the solar panels would amount to $63,970.82, and would save the school district more than $800,000 over 20 years.

The four sites were chosen after an analysis of all the district’s meters. The selected spots met all the criteria for the kilowatt-per-hour offset needed, as well space and financial standards.

Future energy needs will certainly be considered if the current proposal gains the approval of the public and board, but currently, these are the only four sites that meet the criteria, according to the district’s director of business services Mark Rydberg.

There is a timeline, if the four are approved: They would need to be installed by June 26 in order to reap the benefits of financial incentives. There is no up-front cost to the district; Syndicated Solar is the developer and manages the financing by creating a fund group, which in turn owns the panels, Rydberg said.

“Essentially, the cost to the school district is that we’re giving up space,” facilities manager Woody Bates said earlier this week. “This is just changing how we’re connected.”

The first community meeting will be at 6:30 p.m., Sept. 27 at Summit Cove Elementary.

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