Solar array

PETERBOROUGH — ConVal Regional High School is about to get a jolt of new — and renewable — energy.

The Peterborough school soon will begin installing a 247-kilowatt rooftop solar array, the district announced in a news release Tuesday. The school expects to realize substantial savings on electricity in the process.

ReVision Energy — a South Portland, Maine-based company that operates throughout New England — will install and maintain the 555-panel system at no charge to the district. In return, ConVal will purchase energy produced by the panels at a discounted rate of 8.8 cents per kilowatt hour in the first year of its contract with ReVision, with the rate set to increase 2 percent annually. The district currently pays 16 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity, according to the release.

“This is a great opportunity to have a significant clean energy source powering the high school well into the future,” Superintendent Kimberly Rizzo Saunders said in the release. “This program gives the district significant flexibility in how it approaches its energy needs, and we’re excited about finding a cost-effective way to decrease our impact on the environment.”

Under ConVal’s contract with ReVision, the district has the option to buy the panels after five years, and anytime thereafter, at the market rate at the time of the purchase. If the district buys the array, it would no longer have to pay for the electricity the panels generate. If ConVal does not buy the system from ReVision, the company will remove the solar array for free after 25 years, according to the release.

The panels will not provide all of the high school’s energy, but the district expects to save about $825,000 on electricity costs over 25 years, if ConVal purchases the system. If the district buys the array and uses it for its full 40-year lifespan, the savings could be about $2 million, according to the release. Rizzo Saunders has said she expects the system to save the district between $7,000 and $11,000 annually in its first years.

Voters in the ConVal district — which covers Antrim, Bennington, Dublin, Francestown, Greenfield, Hancock, Peterborough, Sharon and Temple — approved the plan for the solar array last March.

At the same time, voters approved the creation of a new trust fund for potentially buying the solar panels eventually, as well as other alternative-energy and energy-efficiency projects. District residents added $70,000 to that fund last year. If ConVal wants to purchase the solar array from ReVision in the future, the district would need to seek approval from voters again.

Jack Rooney can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1404, or jrooney@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @RooneyReports.