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Merton Community School Invests In Solar Power

The Merton Community School invests in solar power, in hopes of saving the district thousands of dollars in energy costs each year.

The school board on Aug. 1 unanimously approved spending $500,000 for Pewaukee-based SunVest Solar Inc. to install rooftop solar panels at both the district’s schools, Merton Primary and Merton Intermediate, this fall.

By using solar power, the district expects to save between $70,000 and $80,000 in annual energy costs over the next 10 years. The total project cost was $608,000, according to Superintendent Ron Russ. To pay for the project, the district took out a $500,000 loan that will be paid off over the next 10 years.

The principal and interest payments are coming from the school’s 2019-20 operating budget, which Russ said is mostly offset by the electricity savings. The district is also putting $68,000 of its 2019-20 operating budget toward the project.

The panels will produce 300 kilowatts of power, the most allowed by the state Public Service Commission for solar energy use, according to Russ.

“We’re real excited about the project, not only for the environment and the conservation aspect, but ultimately, the financial savings are real impressive, too,” Russ said.

Installation of the panels is expected to begin this fall and be completed by the end of October or early November, Russ said.

Other districts

In June, the New Berlin School District was having more than 8,000 solar panels installed on the roofs of three of its schools as part of a partnership with We Energies and SunVest Solar. The panels were installed at Ronald Reagan Elementary, Eisenhower Middle/High School and West Middle/High School.

The project is part of We Energies’ new Solar Now program, which is looking to create 35 megawatts of clean, renewable energy to benefit all of its customers. The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin approved the pilot program. New Berlin’s project will create more than 2 megawatts of power.

We Energies will pay the district to host the solar panels, an estimated $94,500 per year for the next 20 years.

New Berlin School District Communications Coordinator David Cotey said in June that the district will have decommission, disassembly and reassembly costs to pay down the road when roofs need repair or replacement due to wear and tear or life expectancy. The projected costs bring the estimated total revenue over 20 years to about $1.5 million, Cotey said.

The rooftop systems were expected to be installed by the end of August, while the ground array was expected to be completed in September.

Shorewood School District communications specialist Katelin Watson said the district has had solar panels for more than 15 years at Shorewood Intermediate School and Shorewood High School. The panels provide electricity to the buildings and heat both pools at Shorewood High School.

Read more: Rooftop solar array

Lake Country Schools Superintendent Mark Lichte said that school installed solar panels about 10 years ago. Lichte said that the school received a few grants when We Energies donated money for the project. He said the school saves about 70 dollars a month with the use of the solar panels.

The Brown Deer School District has been using solar energy to heat its pool in Brown Deer Middle/High School for at least four years, according to Brown Deer communications specialist Courtney Krueger.