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Lew-Port schools weigh rooftop solar panels

Edwin J. Viera
March 10, 2021

LEWISTON — The Lewiston-Porter School District is looking to add solar panels to the roofs of its buildings.

Superintendent Paul Casseri said the district has been using the Iroquois Central School District as a model. Dean Stanfield, a commercial sales consultant from Solar Liberty, spoke to board members about the benefits solar energy offers as well as the system their buildings would use.

“The system we have designed for your rooftop is a ballasted system,” Stanfield said. “… It’s rated at 90 mph sustained winds and 100 mph gusts. There’s no penetration to the roof, no issues with roof warranty, and it’s really the best design. And, the nice thing about it is we can fit more modules because we can put them in rows to maximize their production and you can get more credit back on your electric bill.”

Energy generated will feed back into the grid to be used in other places, not just Lew-Port buildings. Stanfield explained if the district’s solar system generated 10,000 kWh (kilowatt hours) in January, with a value stack of 0.088 cents from electric companies, than the district’s bill would receive an $880 credit.

Once the district moves forward with this, Stanfield said it will be a massive savings in energy consumption, with an estimated 704,617 kWh of energy being generated by the district’s solar panels. This would reduce the current electrical consumption from over 1.5 million kWh to 829,696 kWh.

Casseri said adding solar panels has been broken down into two projects, with the first focusing on the Primary Education Center and Lewiston-Porter High School and the second focused on the middle and intermediate schools. He added the district offices are being considered as well. Patricia Grupka, assistant superintendent for Administrative Services, spoke on why these buildings were specifically considered.

“We’re doing the PEC because it’s because were already fully air-conditioned in there,” she said. “So, we won’t be having any other work on these buildings right now and we have some really good flat roofs. Easily accessible … maximizing all the space on top. We’re a little unusual too because our builds are not done by individual building for a build.”

Once Lew-Port Middle and Intermediate Schools get rooftop air conditioning units, they will have all rooftop work being completed, paving the way for solar panels to be installed, Casseri said.

Board Member Charlotte Huebschmann asked what would happen if the district had to do repairs to the roof, under the panels. Stanfield replied in the case of any roof repairs being done, the panels would be removed, but since it’s a modular system, this would allow for any number of panels to be removed based on the kind of work being done. Before going forward, the district will consult architects to ensure the building’s roofs can hold the weight of the solar panels.

The system is slated to pay for itself within 13 years, with the estimated average monthly savings coming out to $5,509.76. However, the total cost for the district will be $814,136.20, after incentives from NYSERDA.

Full article here.