The solar panels would produce enough energy in one year to power 42.8 passenger cars or 28 homes.
Michelle Sokol; Posted on June 24, 2015 at 11:30 a.m
GOSHEN — Some area schools could soon be used to harvest the energy of the sun.
Representatives from Solscient Energy, an Ohio-based solar energy firm, spoke to the Goshen Community Schools board at its Monday, June 22, meeting about using the roofs of several schools to host solar arrays.
Under the proposal, Solscient Energy would lease unutilized roof space from the district at a cost of $4,000 per roof per year for 15 years. The district would also receive a one-time payment of $7,000 per roof upon completion of construction.
Solscient would then sell the harvested energy to NIPSCO through its Rate 665 program, which provides incentives to utility customers to build or host solar arrays and sell the electricity back to the company.
Although the school board did not commit to participating, members and district administrators appeared excited about the opportunity — especially about the educational aspect for students.
The solar panels would come with an online monitoring system that students could access, which will give a picture of how much energy is collected at various times of the day. The students could learn that in one year, the solar panels generate enough energy to power 42.8 passenger cars or 28 homes.
Solscient Energy has identified five schools where solar panels would work well on the roof: Chandler Elementary, West Goshen Elementary,Waterford Elementary, Goshen Middle School and Goshen High School.
In addition to the possible $335,000 the district would receive from the agreement, air conditioning costs could be lower because the solar panels provide shade and the roof could last longer because of less UV degradation.
The school solar arrays would not be Solscient’s first project in Elkhart County. The team has installed solar arrays on the roofs of Lippert Components and Benteler in Goshen and Turtle Top in New Paris.
NIPSCO has indicated to the company that there is more interest in the program than they have room, so there will be a lottery July 8 to determine which sites will be accepted.
If any or all of the Goshen schools are chosen to participate, Superintendent Diane Woodworth said the school board would consider entering into a contract with Solscient.