GALLIA COUNTY — Gallia County Local Schools are now online producing solar power.
Two of the four systems are online and producing power for River Valley Middle and High Schools.
“I want to go on record and say that we brought solar power to the county,” said Jude Meyers, superintendent.
The $3.2 billion dollar project consisted of improvements in lighting and automation and is funded through the savings those updates make. Part of those upgrades include the solar systems that will not only create clean energy but also lock in a reduced rate to the district. Vista is the consulting firm that organized and coordinated the projects. Meyers brought in Vista after having worked with them at his previous district.
“We’re not up with Buckeye, but we are up with AEP. Buckeye Rural has to go through Buckeye power through Columbus but we’ve agreed with all the paperwork so we would assume those will be powered up in the next few weeks,” said Meyers. “We are producing power, we are on the grid and we’re excited about that.”
According to the agreement Gallia Local has with the power companies, they purchase the power produced from the solar panels at 8 cents per kilowatt hour, including both generation and transmission.
“Right now we’re paying around 11.2 cents, but power is escalating about five percent per year, we have a two percent cap per year,” said Meyers. “It’s green energy, it’s an alternative source of energy. If things work well you’re going to get more credits back to you.”
While Addaville and Southwestern Elementary Schools are on Buckeye Rural and not online yet, River Valley’s two schools are online.
The AEP sites at River Valley will produce between 40 and 45 percent of the power for those two buildings, while the Buckeye Rural sites at Addaville and Southwestern will produce less, according to Meyers.
“Your high schools never close, you have summer camps and summer school and summer activities. You’re wrapping up in June but you’ve got camps and by the the first of August you’re ramping back up,” stated Meyers.
The money saved from the solar panels and updates in the lighting and automation is saved in the budget, according to Meyers. He explained that they are projecting their savings to be somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000 dollars in additional savings from the solar panels. Any overproduction will add to those savings for the district.
The Gallipolis City Schools is also online with solar power, watch for that story in an upcoming edition of the Gallipolis Daily Tribune.
Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342.