May 1, 2017
The Readington Township School District will be installing solar panels this summer. The District voted last summer to undertake this project. Time was spent by the contractor in designing the system and in obtaining subcontracts; installation will begin after school is finished in June. A courtesy review of the solar project was given in March to the Planning Board in our Township government.
The project consists of rooftop solar panels on Three Bridges School and on Readington Middle School and ground mounted panels close to Readington Middle School and Holland Brook School (HBS).
Construction is expected to finish in November, with the bulk of activity taking place during summer hiatus. Activity when school is in session will be as limited as much as possible. The District expects to begin generating solar power in November.
The solar project is expected to save around $48,000 a year in electricity costs. No expectation of savings was built into the budget for the school year 2017-18; this allows the District to see the actual results before adjusting the budget.
How the Solar Project Works
The contractor, Ameresco, will install and maintain the solar panels for 15 years. During that time, the District agrees to purchase all of the electric output at 6.799 cents per kilowatt hour. At the end of 15 years the District has a choice: either take ownership of the old solar panels at a negotiated residual value (likely to be a small cost), or have Ameresco remove them at no cost to the District. If the District takes ownership the District can use whatever electricity is generated by the old panels, but the district will have to maintain and eventually remove them.
The current plan includes $10,000 for bushes and trees to screen the ground-mounted panels. This funding will also be used to plant trees at Holland Brook to offset the removal of trees where some ground panels will be installed.
The maximum production of solar power is planned to produce less than 80% of a school’s need; the plan is school specific. The other 20+% will still be purchased through the consortium of school districts that our District participates in today. This maximum will allow room for further conservation efforts while making use all of the solar output.