Solar project advances at Purdy

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Board considering financing options

Purdy school board members voted to move forward with a deal to add solar panels to building roofs but wanted to explore additional financing options.

John Conger III, director of solar projects for Brightergy, brought some engineering analysis for board member to review. Having partnered with school districts in Pierce City, East Newton, Stockton and Belton, Brightergy had a track record for its proposal to reduce energy costs to the district by more than $60,000 a year. The solar panels carry a 25-year warranty, though their production decreases over time, giving the board a chance to leave a legacy for future generations in Purdy.

Conger said the district could produce 80 percent of its energy from solar power, with no up-front cost. Brightergy offered a lease arrangement over 14 years, including paperwork with Empire District Electric for scheduled rebates, $12,000 on each of four meters. At present rates of 11 cents per kilowatt hour, the deal would result in Purdy paying 6 cents per kilowatt hour. By Congerís calculations, the district could see a positive cash flow of $96,000 a year, plus another $6,000 a year, for a savings of $1.4 million to the district over 25 years.

Board chairman Randy Henderson noted Congerís savings depended on todayís energy prices that would not hold if prices fell. The lease proposal made by Conger did not offer level payments, but increased over time, running almost double the initial payment at the end. At Hendersonís recommendation, Superintendent Steven Chancellor contacted the districtís financial advisor, Piper Jaffray Goss, to look at other lease options. Henderson asked for rates on a 15-year straightline lease, which he figured would be higher and not budget neutral.

Board members voted to proceed with the concept, pending financing options. They hoped to have financing choices available for the next meeting on Monday.

Conger said he could then file an application with Empire, which would approve the project in approximately 90 days. Installation would take approximately 30 days and could possibly be done by the end of the summer.

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