The newest addition to Burlington Notre Dame could save the school district thousands of dollars in electrical bills. A solar field with 836 panels is now located next to the soccer field along Terrace Drive in Burlington.
Notre Dame Principal Bill Maupin said the district partnered on the project with Precision Energy Services of West Burlington.
“When Precision Energy first approached us, we were definitely interested,” said Maupin. “Once we further researched the significant utility savings and the long-term benefits to our school and the environment, solar became an easy choice.”
Maupin estimated the solar field will offset nearly 95% of the school’s electric costs over the next 30 years.
“We take our average electrical bill and we are going to save about $500/month on it for the next 12 ½ years,” said Maupin. “Then the solar panels become ours so we will have virtually no electrical bill at that point.”
Maupin said Burlington Notre Dame would not have been able to design and install the panels on its own, which is where Precision Energy Services comes in.
“We design, install, operate and maintain the system,” said owner John Fruehling in a news release. “The school agreed to site the panels on their campus.”
Fruehling said a separate company will sell the electricity generated by the solar field back to the school. He said by doing so, that company is eligible for state and federal tax credits for which the school would not qualify.
"Most schools are non-profit institutions, so they are unable to take advantage of solar tax breaks,” said Fruehling, adding that fact usually results in school districts entering into Power Purchase Agreements with private companies. “This financial arrangement allows Notre Dame to receive long-term, low-cost electricity, while the LLC is able to capture financial incentives like the tax credits and depreciation benefits.”
Maupin said the solar field will provide a learning opportunity as well.
“Our current and future students will have first-hand accessibility to their own solar farm- from the science behind it, to monitoring daily production from their Chromebooks” said Maupin. “By monitoring daily production of the panels from their classrooms, our students will learn more about solar energy and the advantages of using alternate forms of energy. The business model applied and the long-term savings will be a valuable teaching tools for kids to actively observe from a financial perspective.”
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 702 South Roosevelt in Burlington on Friday, August 31 at 2:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend.