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Plan To Bring Solar Power To City Schools Advances

By MEGAN WILLIAMS

Daily News-Record

HARRISONBURG — The Harrisonburg School Board approved a motion earlier this month to begin talks with Staunton- based Secure Futures Solar about installing solar arrays at six schools next year.

According to the proposal, the division will not incur any upfront costs for the installation.

The motion allows the board to enter into a contract with Secure Futures in either January or February, said Craig Mackail, Harrisonburg City Public Schools assistant superintendent of operations and school safety.

“We’re still in the preliminary stages. It’s very early still,” Mackail said.

The school division will work with Secure Futures to decide whether ground arrays, roof- mounted solar ones or a combination will be best for the schools chosen to participate.

The schools being eyed for solar paneling will be Harrisonburg High School, Bluestone Elementary School, Keister Elementary School, Stone Spring Elementary School and Skyline Middle and Smithland Elementary schools, which share a campus on Linda Lane.

These schools have been chosen based on the age of the buildings’ roofs as well as the available ground space around the school. Because a decision hasn’t been made as to whether ground or rooftop panels will be used, the schools needed to have both newer roofs and available space around the building, Mackail said.

Solar panels generally last 25 years, so no school was chosen to participate that likely will need a roof replaced during that time frame, which would also require removing the panels.

Mackail said there will no cost to the division to install the panels.

“ Through an anticipated 25- year power self-generation agreement with Secure Futures, HCPS will host solar installations at five of its campuses and generate all the power those systems create at an anticipated rate below what the schools are currently paying for power,” he said. “Therefore there are no upfront costs to the school division.”

Secure Futures also will donate the solar paneling for the schools.

Contact Megan Williams at 574-6272, @ DNR_Learn or mwilliams@dnronline.com

We’re still in the preliminary stages. It’s very early still.

n Craig Mackail, Harrisonburg City Public Schools assistant superintendent of operations and school safety

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