Solar Panels

The Union School District is considering a lease program to bring renewable energy on campus.

School officials and board members listened to presentations last week from two local solar energy companies, Microgrid Solar and Brightergy, that offer similar solar panel leasing programs.

Both programs include free installation of the solar panels and an accompanying education program containing lessons and activities for students.

The programs stem from Missouri’s renewable energy standard under Proposition C that requires electric companies to generate or purchase at least 2 percent of the electricity they sell from renewable sources. The percentage will gradually increase to approximately 15 percent by 2021.

Ameren offers the rebate to commercial, industrial, residential and nonprofit customers, schools, local, state and federal government agencies, as well as agricultural entities and institutions.

Customers can receive rebates up to $50,000 throughout the lifetime of the program, which will phase out in July 2020.

In order to qualify for incentives, customers must have an electric account in good standing with the participating utility.

According to the Ameren Missouri Photovoltaic Rebate Program, eligible systems must use new equipment; be permanently installed on the customer’s property; and have module and inverter manufacturer’s warranties of at least 10 years.

Installations must comply with all applicable federal, state and local codes and standards, including the state of Missouri’s Interconnection Standards.

Rebate recipients must certify that the system will remain in operation on their property for its useful life, which is deemed to be a minimum of 10 years. The customer retains ownership of all solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs) generated by the system.

In exchange for offering a low-cost lease to the school district the company leasing the equipment will obtain the rebate checks.

The cost of the lease would be between $1,800 to $2,000 per year per array (cluster of solar panels). Representatives from Brightergy estimated the district could save more than $336,000 over a 20-year period.

With solar panels in place, about 4 percent of the district’s electricity would come from renewable energy.

Many other schools in the St. Louis area are already participating in one of the programs, including Clayton, Parkway and Rockwood.

Education Program

Both companies offer a corresponding solar education program with the lease at no cost to the district.

Students would learn about how solar energy works and can download data from the solar panel system to track and analyze.