Carroll approves solar panels for high school

08/19/2014 12:45 PM

08/19/2014 12:46 PM

Carroll Independent School district plans to install a solar array on the roof of Carroll High School, a move that could brighten the district’s financial picture by nearly $1 million in the next 25 years.

The district will pay Axium Solar $1.2 million to install 1,956 solar panels as part of an Oncor rebate program. The installation will create a 498.78-kilowatt solar array.

Officials said they hope to have the project finished by Thanksgiving.

Robb Welch, Carroll ISD Finance Services assistant superintendent, said the solar array should save the district about $60,000 in electrical costs a year. The district estimates a $900,000 saving over the system’s 25-year life span.

The high school joins the recently built Carroll Middle School to have a solar array, Built in 2011, the middle school’s 532-kilowatt system has generated 1.48 million kilowatt-hours of energy.

"By the end of the year, the district will have two of its 11 campuses operating solar installations and will continue to look at the remaining campuses as candidates for solar installations as funding incentives and opportunities arise," Welch said.

In addition to adding a solar array, the district will spend about $723,000 to re-roof the facility that opened in 1997. The roof is approaching the end of its 20-year lifespan.

"If we’re nearing the end, we could kill two birds with one stone," Superintendent David Faltys said.

The new roof would replace the gravel design with a light reflective roof. Faltys said other school districts have seen savings with a white reflective roof.

Board of Trustees President Read Ballew said the district could sell any additional energy generated by the solar array for revenue.

Welch said in periods of minimal building use, such as the summer, the solar array could generate surplus energy that would be returned to Oncor in exchange for revenue.

"As a Robin Hood school district, the district continues to pursue opportunities to either save operational costs or generate additional revenues outside the current school funding formula that recaptures and sends funds to the state," Welch said.

Estimates show the solar investment could make the district money within 11 years.

To acquire the rebate, the district must have the panels installed and approved by Oncor by Nov. 20.

Before crews can install the array, the city will have to approve the project.

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