AKRON — Many in the Akron-Mentone area are familiar with Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation’s wind turbine.
Now, the corporation is looking into another renewable energy project, this time with solar power.
At a public work session held last evening, Monday, July 20, at the school administration building, TVSC Superintendent Brett Boggs introduced Northern Indiana Power Supply Company’s Feed-In Tariff program, an option the school corporation is looking into as a way to earn some revenue.
Known as NIPSCO FIT 2.0, the program allows locations with small-scale renewable energy projects to sell excess energy back to the grid. Boggs identified Mentone Elementary School and Burket Educational Center as two ideal locations within the school corporation for such a project.
Present at the meeting were Jim Straeter and son, Mike Straeter, of Ag Technologies, Rochester. Straeters have experienced firsthand the benefits of this type of renewable energy and have worked with and developed their own solar power systems. They were also able to explain several options available through the FIT program.
On July 8, NIPSCO conducted a lottery, choosing 20 participation request forms from among 77 that were submitted by locations interested in the program. Both Mentone and Burket were selected.
Among all of TVSC’s schools, Mentone and Burket were entered because they are located in NIPSCO’s service area, making them eligible for the program. In addition, both have the 1.5-acre space required for the solar arrays.
The idea behind the project is twofold. First, to reduce energy costs by allowing Burket and Mentone Elementary to create their own energy and, second, to generate additional income for the schools by selling excess energy back to the grid, making between 2.5 cents and 3 cents per kilowatt hour.
As with all major undertakings, this new project comes with initial expenses. The next step is for TVSC to find a tax-eligible investor. This needs to be accomplished by July 8, 2016.
At this point, TVSC has not made a final decision, but will continue looking into different options available for each of the two locations.