CHESHIRE -- A 570,000 kilowatt (kW) solar array at the renovated Hoosac Valley Middle & High School is nearly ready for "full steam ahead" energy production, district officials report.
Last week, developer J.M. Electric tested the array, and 50 kW of energy were generated as the sun beat down on Hoosac's western lawn, said district business administrator David Hinkell at an Adams-Cheshire Regional School District (ACRSD) meeting Monday.
Next week, Hinkell said, National Grid plans to perform its final testing of the array. If National Grid grants its final approval, the structure will be officially put online, to begin covering roughly 80 percent of Hoosac Valley's energy needs, according to estimates.
"It worked fine," Hinkell said. "There's talk of incorporating [study of the array's energy production] into curriculums going forward."
A measurement device recording the amount of energy produced by the array has been installed in Hoosac Valley's atrium, Hinkell said, and study of the production could factor into various science labs and green-energy initiatives for students.
ACRSD committee Chair Paul Butler said at the meeting he was initially surprised by the array's new presence on the high school's front lawn.
"It looks quite impressive out there," Butler said.
Additional landscaping and grass planting is planned for the spring, Butler added. J.M. Electric will maintain the equipment, while the district is charged with building a minimum-security fence around the property.
The district's power purchase agreement with J.M. Electric is for 20 years, with two, five-year renewal options. It's 20-year energy savings impact has been estimated at $866,000, while the 30-year savings were put at $1.6 million.
Per the agreement, the district is obligated to purchase all the power produced by the array at seven cents per kilowatt hour, with a yearly one percent escalation clause. The agreement was viewed as very favorable by a representative of J.M. Electric at an earlier meeting during the project's planning stages.
On top of these savings, the array allowed the overall Hoosac Valley building project to qualify for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design [LEED] certification. Monetarily, this certification meant an extra $800,000 reimbursement from the Massachusetts School Building Authority -- two percent of the entire cost of Hoosac Valley's $40.5 million renovation -- would be forthcoming.
At the end of the 20 to 30 year agreement, the district will have options to either buy the array, have it removed by the developer or find a separate company to operate it.
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