Fremont gives final approval to solar project
By Mike Marturello | KPC News - The Herald Republican
Solar power is coming to Fremont Community Schools.
The school’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved a $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 for on Monday. It’s expected the equipment will last approximately 40 years, said Jami Krynski of PSG Energy Group, which is building the project.
The board approved the project contingent upon the contract passing muster with the district’s legal team.
“I just want to make sure what we’re signing is he last version of this,” said board member Anna Creager.
Financing for the project is scheduled to close on Wednesday, though Krynski said that could be moved back if necessary to clear legal hurdles.
Apparently documents for the project have been evolving greatly over the past few weeks, and even throughout the day Monday.
“It’s hard for me to sign my name on something that’s been a moving target the past couple weeks,” Creager said.
“It feels that way, but now it’s all together,” Krynski said. “There were several questions that came up the last couple of weeks.”
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.
Board member Gary Baker said 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.
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.
In addition to the solar work, PSG is going to retrofit lighting in the district to LED, which will not only save on energy bills but will provide a $45,150 rebate from Northern Indiana Public Service Co. The entire project is expected to be done by July 31.
Krynski said the school’s system won’t rely completely on net metering — getting paid for putting power back onto the grid — to realize its savings. Instead, the school will be using much of what is being produced. Still, any excess will be put into the grid.
Another key question facing the district was how current legislation would end up treating the project. The most current version of the bill would allow non-commercial solar generation systems to 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.