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Navajo-Hopi Observer | Flagstaff, Arizona

home : winslow news : winslow news August 27, 2015

3/26/2013 10:49:00 AM
Winslow School District goes solar
Crews began installing 1,600 solar panels at Winslow High School March 25, district officials expect to save $1.3 mil over next 20 years
Todd Roth

Winslow Schools Superintendent Doug Watson, Assistant Superintendant Lance Heister and local contractor Joe Hancock discussed a solar updates plan for the Winslow School District at the March 20 Winslow Rotary meeting. Each of the three individuals discussed a portion of the plan.

Watson and Heister covered the negotiations with the contractor, Ameresco Co., and overall planning and panel placement. Hancock, one of the local contractors involved, presented some physical and electrical details on the project. Ameresco and Arizona Public Service (APS) are able to offer this kind of solar upgrade to local customers because the federal government has a system of incentives and carbon credits which makes it available to the Winslow School District.

The district has been working on the possibility of bringing in solar efficiencies for a year or more. Previously Watson instituted an electrical efficiency inventory and overhaul of the school's energy expenditures and infrastructure. Watson said solar is the next step in reducing the Winslow School District's energy costs.

Ameresco is the district's contractor for the project. Ameresco owns, installs and maintains the 10 solar arrays currently installed throughout the school district. There are a total of 18 electric meters in the district and 10 of these meters will be fed electricity from the solar panels, which goes back out to the APS grid during daylight hours 365 days a year. The school district obtains a fixed electric rate at the current rate for the next 20 years.

Since electrical rates are expected to increase at about 5 percent per year, the district saves money, knows what its future electrical costs will be and can more accurately plan future yearly budgets. District officials expect the maximum savings over the next 20 years to be $1.3 million.

Crews will install solar panels at Winslow High School March 25. A total of 1,600 panels will be installed at the school, which will be the largest solar group in the district. The life of a solar panel is 25 years. The solar arrays installed in Winslow will be engineered to withstand winds of 100 miles per hour. Each Winslow school will have solar arrays installed. The solar project will also be a teaching vehicle for the district, helping students learn about solar energy.

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