Last week, officials with Waconia Public Schools learned that the Minnesota Department of Commerce Division of Energy Resources has awarded the district approximately $130,000 toward the installation of an array of solar panels mounted on top of the high school roof. The project is expected to be completed by Aug. 31.
The photovoltaic array features 96 410-watt tenKsolar modules for a system rating of 39.36 kilowatts.
As the project is being fully financed by JJR Power, the district will not be required to contribute any cash toward the cost of the installation. The project is being funded through a combination of tax incentives, tax credits, and a 15-year power purchase agreement not to exceed 75 percent of the savings generated by the electricity produced by the solar system. And after 15 years, the district can assume ownership of the system.
The district submitted an application to do the project last year but it was not selected. When the high school was re-roofed in 2013, it was designed and planned to be able to handle a solar array in the future.
District officials are pleased to receive the funds to pursue the project at this time.
“The district will see reduced energy costs by producing its own electricity,” said Todd Swanson, Director of Finance and Operations for Waconia Public Schools. “While it will only provide a fraction of our overall electrical needs, it will help.”
“The solar array is expected to produce a yearly average of about 50,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity,” Swanson said. “Producing 50,000 kWh of electricity annually from coal emits about 75,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. Preventing this much CO2 from being released to the atmosphere is the equivalent to adding 5,015 trees to the forests. To our students and future generations, this is a very important component.
“We will be demonstrating a commitment to the environment by reducing our carbon footprint,” Swanson continued. “More importantly, the solar array will be used by our science teachers to explain the effects and impacts of solar energy to students.”
Over a 30-year span, the system will offset 2.25 million pounds or 1,125 tons of carbon dioxide.
Contact Todd Moen at [email protected]