Fremont solar breaks ground
By Mike Marturello | KPC News - The Herald Republican
Fremont Community Schools broke ground on its solar field Monday afternoon.
Work is expected to get moving quickly on the project, with fencing going up today and and foundation work soon to follow.
“We should see the base units in by the 22nd (of May),” said Fremont Superintendent Bill Stitt.
Fremont is one of many school districts across the state to take advantage of solar power as a way of lowering utility costs and possibly earning money off of power that is put back into the electric power grid and purchased by utility companies in the form of credits. The move to solar comes as the cost of the units have come down while funding for public education continues to be in a state of flux.
The $4.2 million project that should allow the district to realize a $6.2 million savings in energy costs over 25 years the system is warranted. It’s expected the equipment will last approximately 40 years, Jami Krynski of PSG Energy Group, which is building the project, said in a board meeting earlier this year. The solar equipment will be leased to the school over a 20-year period and the district can finish paying for the equipment after six years into the project.
The project will have a solar array that will produce up to 1.8 megawatts of direct current power, the equivalent of 1.4 megawatts of alternating current, which is the type of electricity that runs through homes. While estimates on how many homes 1.4 megawatts of solar power will supply vary, a number of energy related websites put the estimate at 230 homes a year on the low end.
Stitt has noted that the energy put back into the grid most likely will go directly into homes and businesses surrounding the Fremont campus. The system will power all Fremont buildings except the administration complex.
It is expected it will take about 60 days to complete installation of the solar field, which will be on about 6 acres of ground south of Fremont Middle School.
As Fremont was working to get the system’s details worked out, legislation in Indianapolis put into jeopardy potential payback through net metering — selling power put back on the grid. As the legislation ended up, solar power owners like Fremont can collect full retail on net metered energy for 30 years if the system is operational by Dec. 31. Net metering at full retail is being phased out for systems that go operational after Jan. 1, 2018.
In addition to the cost savings that are expected for the district, the system will also be used for education.