Dave McCormack 27

Solar panels at Winton Farm, a country club and golf course in the Clifford community of Amherst County, helps Waukeshaw Development, the property's owner, with keeping electric costs lower, according to Dave McCormack, who heads the Petersburg-based company. 

The Amherst County School Board voted during its June 11 meeting to move forward with considering options for installing solar panel on roofs of schools in hopes of saving money in energy costs.

Amherst County Public Schools Assistant Superintendent William Wells said a local solar provider, Affordable Energy Concepts, Inc., contacted the division recently regarding an unsolicited proposal to install solar panels on the roofs of school buildings.

“The solar panels could produce up to 46% of the electrical demand of our buildings,” Wells wrote in a memo to the board.

The project would be funded through a power purchase agreement, which would permit a solar provider to install and maintain the panels and operating equipment on the division’s buildings. The costs of the equipment, installation, and maintenance would be assumed by the solar provider and the financing company that works in conjunction with the solar provider, according to Wells.

“Under the PPA plan, the solar provider and financing company assumes all financial risks associated with the proposed project. The Amherst County School Board would not incur any costs or additional financial risks associated with the proposed solar project,” Wells said in the memo.

The procurement office of Amherst County has specific regulations associated with unsolicited proposals to include a $5,000 fee when the proposal is submitted.

Wells emphasized if solar panels are installed the division still have its electric bill through American Electric Power. While no final decisions have been made, board members expressed the potential move as a positive one.

“I like the idea of going solar,” board member David Cassise said.

Dave Wall, of Affordable Energy Concepts, addressed the board and explained how the measure is a longer term investment in saving in energy costs.

He said the project wouldn’t involve panels placed on roofs that haven’t been replaced in the past five years, noting the division’s infrastructure work undertaken in recent years to replace roofs across the division.

“The good news is that you guys have done that,” Wall said of the roof upgrades. “It’s a good time to do solar. Interest rates are super low right now ... ultimately we want to have you money.”

Wayne Cocke, supervisor of maintenance and operations, said the recently replaced roofs have warranties of 30 years. Wells noted a potential agreement with the solar provider is expected for 25 years.

Board member Christopher Terry said renewable energy through solar is efficient and complimented the initiative as part of the division’s “forward-thinking vision and stepping up and doing things.”

Reach Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5551.

Reach Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5551.

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