by Lisa Tome
Just yards from where students at Cecil's School of Technology are pursuing their trade of choice, contractors are working on a project which will save the school system money on electricity.
The first year savings is estimated at $98,000. The savings over the 20-year span of the power purchase agreement ranges between $1.5-$2 million.
According to Perry Willis, Executive Director for Support Services for Cecil County Public Schools, school officials were contacted by Standard Solar of Baltimore. Standard Solar wanted to study a parcel of land to build a solar array.
The deal is a partnership between the developer, Standard Solar, the power provider, Sun Edison, and the Board of Education.
Standard Solar already has projects with University of Maryland, Kent County, and St. Mary's Public Schools. Sun Edison had projects with Harford and Montgomery County Schools and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
The project, adjacent to both the current Cecil County School of Technology and Bay View Elementary, is expected to produce 3,434,000 kWh which is the equivalent to power over 315 homes. The 10.5 acre parcel on which the solar array is being constructed is deed restricted and requires that the land support school system needs.
Where the cost savings for Cecil will come in is that the school system will select six schools which will receive a reduction in power rates. The schools can be changed annually, meaning that the plan can be adjusted to include schools with large enrollments or where buildings may not be as energy efficient. "We can change it every year and can capture the higher use schools," said Willis.
"It's exciting," said Willis.
It will also be educational. One student enrolled in a STEM program in the school system is already studying the solar array for a capstone project. The array's construction is being used as a learning lab.
The goal is to have the solar array fully functioning by December.