A Eugene company has received permission from the Albany School Board to put 20 systems on the roofs of Albany schools to generate electric power under the Oregon Solar Incentive Program.
The Albany School Board voted 3-1 on Monday to approve the proposal from Energy Wise, which will install, own and maintain the systems at no charge for 15 years. After that, Energy Wise will either turn over ownership of the systems or remove them at no cost.
The solar array will be connected to the schools’ meters. Under the state’s 15-year Solar Incentive Program, Pacific Power will pay the company 37 cents per kilowatt hour generated. The schools now pay about 6 cents.
Under the deal, the schools will get $1,000 per system per year either in savings because they generate their own power or from Energy Wise if they don't.
Lyle Utt and Frank Bricker joined Chairwoman Sandi Gordon in approving the project. Jerry Boehme voted no, saying he had concerns about locking the district into a 15-year agreement.
“This company has been around for a while, Energy Wise, but what happens if they’re gone? Who steps in? What goes on? These types of things happen,” he said.
Business Director Russell Allen said the district’s roof manufacturer has said the warranty would not be affected and there are no concerns about the installation, as long as its specifications are followed and the work is done by an approved contractor. Energy Wise has said it will use the same contractor.
The systems are expected to last at least 20 years, according to the Oregon Department of Energy and the Energy Trust of Oregon, Allen said, although new inverters may be needed after 10 years. Energy Wise has committed to purchase a set of spare inverters for each unit, which it will donate to the district if not used during the 15-year program.
The board had delayed a decision to provide time to explore other solar options. Gordon said she did some research but did not find another company that had worked with schools.
Energy Wise has installed panels on five other districts in the state: Cascade, Moutn Angel, Silver Falls, Newberg and Salem-Keizer.
Owner Peter Greenberg of Albany, a former Albany firefighter, said he knows of no other company in the state offering a similar service, and only two other states, Hawaii and Florida, offer a similar solar incentive program.
He said his offer to Albany was higher than the payment being received by schools in either state.