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Putnam County school board hears about solar energy possibilities

GRANVILLE — Yona Lunken represents a number of solar energy companies, and talked to the Putnam County School Board this week. He outlined how a solar energy system could be installed at the junior high south of McNabb. He said one of the most important factors was the system’s impact on the bottom line savings to the district.

He cited the various ways in which such a system could be installed emphasizing the advantage of rooftop installation. Financing such a project could be arranged by a direct purchase of the equipment or cost sharing with the installation company.

The estimated cost ranged from $210,000 to $700,000 for a typical unit. The lower cost could be achieved through tax and depreciation incentives for the company and the district purchasing electricity from the company at a reduced cost.

Excess energy produced in the summer can be sent back to the electric grid for a credit from Ameren.

One of the first steps in evaluating the feasibility of such a project is an energy audit to evaluate the size of the unit that would be necessary.

Superintendent Carl Carlson said one of the most costly energy uses at the junior high is the halogen lights in the gym. These could be replaced with LED lighting at a substantial savings.

Lunken admitted that over time the solar cells lose ½ percent of their generating capacity each year, but every year there are improvements in the systems making newer solar cells more efficient.

He conceded that the solar system would not have to be installed on a school roof if there was suitable space elsewhere on the school campus.

Since the Hennepin school has had its roof recently replaced, it appeared that the rooftop location would be suitable for that building.

However, if repairs to the roofs of the other school buildings were ever needed, a portion of the rooftop collectors would have to be moved during maintenance.

Lunken concluded his remarks saying, “Now is the best time to buy solar.”

The board made no decision to invest in the proposed system.

Other business

Annette Davis, media center director at the high school, gave her annual state of the library report and highlighted a $750 grant which will be divided among the four schools to purchase additional books. She also pointed out the Bluestem Award program in grades 4-5 and the Rebecca Caudill Awards in grades 5-6.

Student liaison representatives from the high school described a number of recent and coming events including the wrestling team record, SAT exams, the Sweetheart Dance and Special Olympics.

Board member Adriane Shore, representing the Parent Advisory Committee, provided information on a summer activities program meeting scheduled for April and a career day program in March.

Carlson outlined potential changes in the calendar for 2018-19. These included a request for a waiver to have school attendance on Pulaski Day to provide additional time at the end of the year for possible snow days. The spring break may be moved to the week before Easter in 2019.

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