The Maryville R-II School District is thinking about adding green solar energy to the Spoofhound green often sported by students and faculty.
At the R-II School Board's regular meeting last week, members listened to a presentation from Brightergy, a clean-energy company that leases equipment to organizations and non-profits to help them reduce energy costs.
The main focus of Brightergy is solar energy, and the district is considering installing solar panels on all six of its buildings.
John Sedlock, director of business development for Brightergy, outlined details of his company's proposal to the board. He said there would be no up-front costs to install the panels, which would be updated and maintained by Brightergy.
The company also guarantees savings, which means that if the district ends up with a higher electricity bill, Brightergy will make up the difference.
The lease would be a fixed payment, compared to variable bills from Kansas City Power & Light, which currently charges the district 11 cents per kilowatt hour.
Sedlock said the first year of solar should save the district roughly $6,000, and that savings should balloon to $300,000 over the next 20 years.
"The way that the district would save money is that they would be paying us a fixed-rate instead of paying the electric company," Sedlock said. "If they use more, they don't pay more, and if you compared the cost per kilowatt hour from both options, solar is more cost-effective."
R-II Superintendent Larry Linthacum recommended that the board approve the signing of the lease, but some board members had questions.
While installation, maintenance and updates, along with the guaranteed savings, are all part of the contract, the actual cost-effectiveness was a concern.
The board decided to table the issue until its May meeting.
"We're going to look at it and find out more," Linthacum said. "We are always looking for ways to save and be as efficient as we can, but we want to be sure that this will accomplish that goal."
One concern was that KCP&L might raise rates in the area to compensate for the loss of revenue. Another worry was cloudy days.
In addition to the panels, Brightergy provides classroom curriculum that encourages hands-on learning about energy conservation and other environmental issues.
Schools throughout the district will be able to view energy input from the panels and each building's usage, a learning tool to go along with in-class curriculum.
"You can also think of it as a working laboratory," Sedlock said. "Considering the panels and the curriculum, it is a unique opportunity for schools. And it also helps get the word out about green energy."
Linthacum said district officials plan on talking to other schools and businesses that have joined the Brightergy lease program.
Page 2 of 2 - Brightergy currently has offices in Kansas City, St. Louis and Boston, Mass., and has installed panels at schools in both states. It offers a 25-year warranty on the panels.
Sedlock said that inverters, a key component of the system, typically last about 10 years.
"We own the system," Sedlock said. "So it's in our best interest to keep it up to date and working properly at all times."