Bellingham school system looks toward solar energy

August 4, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

A proposal to install solar panel’s on the town’s schools could save the district up to $800,000 in energy costs of the next 15 years, says an official with company who came up with the idea.

Superintendent Edward Fleury is now weighing the idea proposed by Energy in the Bank.

“It’s something we are researching right now,” Fleury said. “There are lot of communities that are looking at it … I think the state incentives make Massachusetts attractive to this kind of investment.”

Energy in the Bank examines school roof tops and identify those that can support the panels.

In a letter sent last month, the company sought a good faith commitment from Fleury and the School Committee. Fleury has requested that attorneys for the town look over the letter.

As part of the deal, Energy in the Bank said it would pay to repair roofs that need it – a particularly attractive incentive to Fleury because he said the high school’s roof requires improvements.

“With over a million dollars offered in roof repairs and substantial savings in energy costs over the years, the deal looks pretty appealing,” he said. “We could get a lot of capital improvements done by making this commitment.”

Part of the proposal includes placing a 1.5 megawatts solar panel system atop the high school, which according to David Perez, operations manager for Energy in the Bank, would save the School Department more than $800,000 in energy costs over 15 years.

Perez also said the panels allow the school system to begin amassing renewable energy credits. The credits, issued for every megawatt of solar electricity produced, can be sold to the town’s electricity provider, National Grid.

“You’re basically producing electricity for the electricity company,” Perez said.

Rising utility costs have led other districts in the area to consider the benefits of solar energy. In 2009, the Medway School Department installed renewable energy equipment at its schools.

Franklin is also considering putting solar panels on the roof of the new high school.

To maximize Energy in the Bank’s proposal, Fleury has brought town officials into the green energy conversation.

 ”If the school buildings have this value, why can’t the municipal buildings be considered, as well?” he said.

Town Administrator Denis Fraine said Bellingham has for many years studied  turning the 20-acre landfill on South Maple Street into a solar farm.

“The companies we contracted to look at building (the solar farm) have felt that the slope was a bit too steep to support solar panels,” he said. Advances in technolgy, he said, may have changed that.

Energy in the Bank will perform its own study of the lot to determine if constructing the solar farm would be feasible. The landfill, capped in the mid-1990s, currently houses the town’s Recycling Center, but other than that, it is largely unused.

“It’s no cost to us,” Fraine said. “And it’s a dead site. So, we are happy to have them take a look at it.”

Matt Tota can be reached at 508-634-7521 or


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