A process that began more than a year ago to place solar panels on top of several Brick Township schools may come to fruition in a month’s time. Bids on the solar project are due March 25, said Business Administrator James Edwards. Any solar project would need to be approved by the Board of Education.
If such a project is ultimately approved, the school district’s solar plan will differ somewhat from the township’s project at the former French’s Landfill property on Sally Ike Road. Under the bid specifications of the school project, a contractor will pay to have the panels placed on the roofs of whichever schools can support them, Edwards said. The energy that is generated from the panels will be sold back to the school at a rate that is contractually guaranteed to be less than the rate at which Jersey Central Power and Light prices their energy. In the case that JCP&L’s rate ever dips lower than the contracted rate, the school district would pay JCP&L’s rate.
The panels would be placed on the roofs of eight schools, Edwards said. In order to qualify for the project, known as a Power Purchase Agreement, the district had to hire a roof inspector to ensure the roofs of any buildings on which the panels would be installed will last at least 15 years, the length of the contract included in the district’s bid specification. Eight schools qualified, said Edwards. A list of those schools was not available.
If the Board of Ecucation does not go through with a plan to install panels, the district would be responsible for a $95,000 payment to an architect hired to conduct pre-planning for the project. In the case that a solar agreement goes through, the contractor that installs the panels will pay that figure.
Even in the case that panels are installed, they would not cover the entire consumption of the schools on which they are installed.
“We still are going to be buying power off the grid,” Edwards said.