School Districts on Solar Wait List - The Missourian: Local News

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School Districts on Solar Wait List

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Posted: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 5:00 am

Similar to the city of St. Clair, the Lonedell and St. Clair school districts have been placed on a waiting list in regards to receiving possible tax rebates from Ameren Missouri to help pay for a solar energy system that would help power schools.

Lonedell R-XIV Superintendent Jen Ulrich told The Missourian as well as her board of education members that she was informed by StraightUp Solar, the company the district had decided to work with on the project, that the Ameren rebate fund has been exhausted by applications it had received by Dec. 16.

“Our solar project is on hold for now,” Ulrich said. “Solar went so big that all the rebate money has been used up. We’ll have to see what happens.”

St. Clair R-XIII School District Assistant Superintendent Mark Denbow told his board basically the same thing last month.

“Due to the large number of applicants, the reservations for the projects have exceeded the funding level for solar rebates,” he said. “Therefore, we have been placed on a waiting list, or queue, based on the order that applications were received after Dec. 17.”

Ameren has stated that all of the $91.9 million the energy provider had available for solar rebates last year was conditionally assigned prior to the company receiving the school districts’ applications, and because of that Lonedell and St. Clair have been placed in the waiting queue.

“Ameren is forming a waiting list of sorts with all the applications it received after Monday, Dec. 16,” John Hulse of StraightUp Solar told Ulrich. “Since the rebate is the linchpin in making the project financially work for our investor, we are in a current hold pattern until complete 100 percent verification comes from Ameren that your project is secured to the rebate.”

Ulrich said Ameren received Lonedell’s application on Dec. 19, well before the advertised deadline of the end of the calendar year. The city of St. Clair’s application was received on Dec. 20, and City Administrator Rick Childers said there were 231 applications ahead of St. Clair’s and that it was one of 171 received by Ameren on that day.

Ulrich said she did not know where Lonedell is on the utility company’s list. However, according to the time line, the school district’s application should be ahead of St. Clair’s.

But since St. Clair R-XIII’s was received after that, it should be lower on the queue.

“We signed our application with Microgrid Solar on Dec. 10,” Denbow said. “Our application was received by Ameren on Dec. 23. ... Basically, if some of the applications ahead of ours are not approved by Ameren and/or drop out of the group for some reason and enough money becomes available to fund our project, we could get approved.”

Late last year, Lonedell opted to pursue a lease agreement with StraightUp Solar of St. Louis. The company was one of several that pitched its services to the local school district to provide a solar power as an alternative energy source.

Lonedell was looking at using one 25-kilowatt solar array that would be erected on the roof of its new gymnasium.

Ulrich said StraightUp’s projections called for utility savings of about $15,500 over 10 years and about $65,000 over 20 years.

In November, St. Clair R-XIII agreed to a 10-year lease term with Microgrid Solar for six 25-kilowatt arrays to help provide power to the district.

St. Clair Elementary School would house two arrays. One each would be placed on the roofs of Edgar Murray, St. Clair Junior High, St. Clair High School and the Franklin County Cooperative building.

According to information from Microgrid Solar, cumulative energy savings for the R-XIII school district using the six solar arrays for 10 years is estimated to be $157,711. After 25 years, that figure is expected to be $752,934.

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