CHESHIRE -- A solar energy company hopes to sell electricity to the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District's elementary and middle schools.
Seth Ginsberg, of Alford-based Apis Energy Group, asked the school committee at its Monday meeting to consider entering a 20-year purchasing agreement that he said will lower the district's energy costs without forcing it to switch providers.
Though several months away from having its first facilities operable, Ginsberg said he wanted to bring the proposal to the attention of the committee.
"Our objective ... is to begin a dialogue," Ginsberg said.
Apis Energy Group, in partnership with Hancock-based EOS Ventures , is proposing to "direct power" to the National Grid account of the school district through a "net meter exchange."
The district already utilizes solar energy from an array located adjacent to the Hoosac Valley Middle and High Schools, but it does not supply all of the the district's power.
A "net meter" agreement, crafted by state law, essentially allows solar energy companies to sell electricity at a discounted rate from the buyer's normal provider.
The solar arrays will feed electricity into the grid. The electrical company that owns the grid -- in this case National Grid -- pays the solar company in "credits." The solar company then sells those credits at a discounted rate to incentivize buyers.
Under the contract, the district would continue to use National Grid as its provider, but would have credits in its National Grid Account.
According to John Guerin, vice president of operations and sales at EOS Ventures, the district would be agreeing to buy a certain percentage of the credits Apis Energy Group produces.
If the solar arrays produce $100-worth of credits, and the district agreed to buy 20 percent of Apis' production, it would see a $20 credit in its national grid account.
The size of the discount would depend on the value of the credits the district purchases from Apis Energy Group, which is subject to variables in weather.
"[It is] the same power you get from National Grid, just at a discount," Ginsberg said.
If the district had unused credits, according to Ginsberg, they would remain in its National Grid account indefinitely.
Solar projects like those proposed by Apis Energy Group are partly subsidized by state programs.
"We can still turn a profit," Ginsberg said.
Apis Energy Group, which has solar projects in the works across Berkshire County, was rejected by the Adams Planning Board last month for a proposal to build a 6,700-panel farm on East Road.
Ginsberg admitted that the rejection was a "bump," but that the rejection should not keep the school district and Apis Energy Group from exploring a possible partnership.
The school committee responded with questions about the risks in entering a 20-year agreement, and the possibility that a better, less-expensive energy source could be created within the next 20 years.
Ginsberg said that such a development is "unlikely."
The value of the credits would be greater in sunny years, when the facilities can produce a greater amount of electricity.
The leasable lifespan of solar panels is 20-years, Ginsberg said, because their production diminishes over time.
Committee members said they had more questions about the specifics of the credit purchasing agreement. Superintendent Kristen Gordon said she would gather the questions of committee members so Apis Energy Group could answer them at a later date.
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