Work on the Warwick Valley Central School District’s Solar Power Project is nearing completion and is expected to begin generating electricity by New Year’s Day. Once finished, the solar project, located on the campus of Sanfordville Elementary School, will be the largest School District-owned solar project in New York. The 2.419 megawatt solar powered array will generate approximately 2.9 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year, enough to likely offset the District’s entire electricity bill through monetary credits.
“Our community certainly wants to be good stewards of the planet, but they also expect us to be good stewards of the District’s resources and taxpayers’ money,” said Superintendent Dr. David Leach. “This project accomplishes both.”
Work on the 10-acre solar project began in July 2017 and the construction phase is on track for completion by Thurs., Nov. 30. While the project has encountered some difficulties – the soil is quite rocky, which complicated the installation of several panels – the project remains on schedule.
The project cost is approximately $5.7 million. The District borrowed the money and will make payments for 15 years, but, Timothy Holmes, the District’s Superintendent for Business noted, 53.8 percent will be returned to the District through NYS Building Aid.
“Sustainability and lowering our carbon footprint is important in today’s world, but this project does even more,” said Holmes. “The School District will see substantial savings.”
Currently, the District spends about $500,000 each year on electricity. Power generated by the Warwick Valley Solar Power Project will feed into Orange & Rockland’s power grid and, in exchange, the District will receive a per/megawatt monetary credit. This credit will cover most, and in some years all, of the District’s annual power costs.
The solar project is part of an Energy Performance Contract (EPC), approved and aided by New York State. It also qualifies for incentives through the State’s Energy Research and Development Authority, and will have no tax impact or implications on local taxpayers. The project will pay for itself in savings in 12.82 years.
For the safety of students, and the protection of the solar panels, the project includes security cameras and fencing. Also, trees have been planted along Sanfordville Rd. to provide a visual barrier. The solar power project is among several green initiatives in the District. Other environmental efforts include the purchase of propane-powered school buses, LED lighting, a food waste disposal system, a rain garden at the High School, green education programs for students, and a District sustainability policy.