SULLIVAN — The Regional School Unit 24 (RSU 24) Board of Directors voted Dec. 7 to move forward with the district’s preparations to participate in an offsite, net energy billing credit solar program with ReVision Energy.
The vote was nearly unanimous, with all members voting to approve the measure except for Andrea St. George Jones, who had to abstain from voting due to internet connectivity problems, as she was out of state and attending the meeting via Zoom.
Along with the savings on the school district’s energy bill, “We’re doing this because we want to encourage greater adoption of solar throughout the state of Maine,” said RSU 24 Facilities and Operations Manager Janet Jordan.
She noted that RSU 24 has been discussing using solar energy since the early development stages of the Charles M. Sumner Learning Campus, the grades-6-through-12 school under construction behind the current Sumner Memorial High School.
The new middle and high school is slated to be open to students at the start of the 2022-23 academic year.
Jordan said the district looked at a handful of offsite proposals before deciding on a 20-year agreement with ReVision Energy. The proposal’s estimated savings for the first year are nearly $20,000, with a total 20-year savings of $457,000, Jordan said.
The net energy billing program will allow the school district to offset its electricity bills by using energy generated from a solar array under development in Hampden.
The next steps for the school district include entering a contract with ReVision Energy, which could be done before the next school year.
“We want to start saving now,” Jordan said.
Additionally, RSU 24 still has plans to develop an onsite solar array at the Charles M. Sumner Learning Campus.
“The building was designed knowing that RSU 24 was interested in putting solar on the roof,” Jordan said.
However, plans for an onsite solar array are being put on hold until about a year after the district’s big move to the new school, “so that we’ve got our feet on the ground,” Jordan explained.
The potential plans — which would also be through ReVision Energy — include a design of 967 solar panels on the roof of the new school. Estimated calculations of the savings from the 40-year agreement are $2.6 million, Jordan said.