Aldermen to Consider School Solar Panel Projects
Curriculum focused on solar panels is also planned for the schools.
Brand new solar panels will soon line the tops of several Newton schools, pending a vote tonight from the Newton Board of Aldermen.
The aldermen will decide whether to enter into a long-term lease with Ameresco Solar Inc., a solar photovoltaic firm. If the item passes, the firm will install solar panels on Newton North High School, Memorial-Spaulding Elementary, Brown Middle School and Countryside Elementary.
Bowen Elementary School was initially slated to receive the solar panels, but according to the September 10 Finance Committee meeting minutes, the administration has determined it is not "economically feasible" to put the panels on Bowen's roof.
Note: The item listed on the Board of Aldermen docket still includes Bowen as one of the schools receiving solar panels.
Once installed, the solar panels will generate more than 800,000 kilowatt-hours in the first year, according to a presentation from Ameresco given to aldermen earlier this month.
The Powerpoint presentation is included in the media section to the right.
According to the minutes from the September 5 Public Facilities Committee meeting, Ameresco will install, operate and maintain the solar panels over the 20-year lease period and the city will pay for 100 percent of the energy produced by Ameresco and the panels.
Chief Operating Officer Bob Rooney said during the meeting that the energy produced by the solar panels will have a fixed cost, as opposed to the changing costs for typical utility services.
Meanwhile, NStar, the utility company that currently provides electricity to the schools, will credit the city for the amount of electricity sent to the grid from the panels.
During the September 5 meeting, Jim Walker of Ameresco told the committee that the city will save approximately $1.2 million if utility rates remain flat over the next 20 years.
As the utility rates increase, the city will save more. If the rates increase by 2.5 percent, the city will save roughly $1.9 million. If the rates increase by 3.5 percent, the city will save nearly $2.3 million.
At the end of the lease, the city will have an option to purchase the solar panels or have them removed by Ameresco.
The schools chosen for the new solar panels have the newest roofs in the district, District Chief of Operations Mike Cronin said at last Monday's School Committee meeting.
School Committee member Jonathan Yeo noted during Monday's meeting that Ameresco will also provide an educational component for the schools, allowing students to track the solar panels' energy production and the city's savings.
The Public Facilities Committee passed the solar panel item 7-0-1 (Alderman Lenny Gentile abstaining) and the Finance Committee passed the item 4-0-3 (Aldermen Gentile, Stephen Linsky and Ruthanne Fuller abstaining, Ald. Anthony Salvucci not voting). The Board of Aldermen meeting will be held tonight at 7:45 p.m. in the chamber at City Hall.