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Posted On: 2017-11-03 08:02 AM
From White Mountain Independent...
By Laura Singleton The Independent
LINDEN — Sunny days have taken on new meaning.
Enjoying sunshine is now also a way to save money on utilities at Sequoia Village School in Linden.
On Sept. 5, the official ribbon cutting was held in the school's parking lot where a new parking structure provides shade and captures energy with solar roof panels.
For almost two months, the K-12 tuition-free charter school has been using solar power for the school's primary source of electricity, with all reserves going back into the Navopache Electric Cooperative grid.
Sequoia is one of several Edkey charter schools that have solar systems in place. They were constructed and installed by Scout Energy Advisors, the Tempe-based company that installed the system at Sequoia.
"The solar shade structure is made up of solar panels that are strung together in groups of 12. They are then connected to an inverter which allows the energy to go from DC to AC power," said Richard Perkins, a co-founder of Scout Energy Advisors.
There are multiple solar panels on the roof of the school that also contribute to the overall electricity production.
What Scout Energy does, in layman's terms, is procure financing through its investment partners for the construction of a solar facility or system. This means no out-of-pocket costs are required from Sequoia.
There is a trade-off, but it's a mutually beneficial one. The flip side is that the entity that financed the construction now owns and operates the system for 20-25 years. The system was officially "powered up" on Sept. 5.
Principal Mindy Savoia said she is pleased with the outcome of the partnership.
"It cut our overall costs exponentially to switch to solar and pay a 20-year lease on the equipment," she said. "We can renew after 20 years, if we wish."
The relationship also allows the school to buy the solar-generated electricity at a discounted rate.
As an added bonus, the school earns a credit from their local utility, Navopache Electric Cooperative (NEC), for any electricity they generate that is above and beyond what they use.
Perkins sums up the arrangement. "We finance, construct and own the system. Then the school buys the electricity at a discounted rate. They also get the free covered parking and they don't have to pay anything for it."
Scout Energy Advisors has 119 solar systems throughout various states.
"It can take as long as eight months to coordinate with the local power company to power-up a system once its built," Perkins said. "NEC was there at Sequoia Village School within days of our request. In fact, NEC was the fastest utility company that we've worked with out of all 119 projects. That's why we would like to work on more projects involving schools and churches in the area."
"Power is now supplied to all classrooms in the new building as well as original modulars. It has been wonderful observing the number of staff members and students who have been educating themselves and each other on the mechanics of solar project," Savoia said.
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