The majority of public schools in Campbell County, Tenn., are going solar in a bid to make $960,000 over 20 years, without raising any additional taxes. That’s under a new partnership with residential and commercial solar installer Efficient Energy of Tennessee (EETN), which is installing solar at 12 of the county’s 21 schools.
The 12 schools in the program are installing 50-kilowatt solar systems, which will sell the power generated to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) through its local power distributor. Already, nine of the installations are complete and the remaining three are currently under construction, according to EETN. Under TVA’s Green Power Providers program, the TVA purchases all the output of the arrays at a premium of 9 cents per kilowatt-hour on top of the retail electricity rate. For years 11 through 20, participants are paid at the applicable retail rate.
“Not only are the solar installations at Campbell County’s elementary, middle and high schools a great STEM teaching tool but, they are generating funds for education without raising taxes,” said EETN President Robbie Thomas. “This financial model, of raising funds for education with solar energy, can be duplicated at school systems across the state of Tennessee.”
The school district, EETN and the Campbell County Finance Department were able to make the installations possible by issuing 15-year bonds. The bonds were used to finance the arrays and their installation. Campbell County then signed an agreement with TVA to become one of the federal government-owned corporation’s Green Power Providers. Under the 20 year agreement, TVA will purchase all of the power the systems produce, as well as the environmental attributes of the clean energy production, minus the liabilities or direct capital investments. The Authority also receives the solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs) the arrays generate, according to EETN.
“There is no doubt Tennessee counties need more resources to reach our education goals, solar energy and Efficient Energy of Tennessee’s financial model can help cash-strapped counties generate revenue without increasing taxes or taking on unmanageable debt,” Thomas said.
For the first 15 years, the installations are anticipated to produce between $12,000 and $14,400 in annual earnings, after paying all bond interest and principals. After the bonds are repaid, “Each installation will generate approximately $13,000 to $15,000 per year for Campbell County for years 16 through 20 of the power purchase agreement,” EETN said.
In all, the arrays can generate more than $960,000 over the 20 year contracts. The systems are expected to last between 30 and 35 years and could provide additional revenue or cost savings for the schools.