Gateway chooses net meter solar option

HUNTINGTON – At yesterday’s Gateway Regional School Committee meeting, it was evident that concerns about the age and condition of the roofs of the different buildings outweighed any interest in pursuing solar panel installations at the school.
Dr. David Hopson, Gateway superintendent, began the discussion, which followed a presentation last week by electrical construction companies for installing solar panels on the roofs of the Gateway complex. The proposals were the result of a Request for Proposals (RFP) submitted one year ago on behalf of Gateway by Eric Weiss, Sustainability Director for the Hampshire Council of Governments. Weiss also presented the alternative option to net meter solar from an off-site installation at the meeting.
Hopson said that the school committee had four options: rooftop installations, net metering, some combination of the two, or to do nothing about solar. He added that in order to ask the vendors to go forward with a revised plan for installations, the committee needed to choose one of the two companies that presented, Ameresco, or Broadway Electrical Co.
Michelle Crane, Blandford representative, made a motion to go with net metering for electricity.
“Being the person who takes care of the building,” said Brian Wing, Gateway’s facilities director. “I understand the interest in solar.”
He went on to say that he was very concerned about leaks, and the weight of the footings on the rooftops.
“What about Littleville?” asked Shirley Winer, representative from Chester.
In last week’s discussion, it was suggested that solar installations might work best on the Littleville Elementary School, which is the newest of the buildings, and which Wing had suggested had the best layout for solar.
“The rooftop on Littleville is already ten years old,” Wing said. “I don’t think there’s enough benefit. The net metering option is great for us.”
“I’m all in favor of solar and going green and so forth, but we better weigh it very carefully,” said Ron Damon of Huntington. “It’s too risky to put panels on the roof. We’re better off to find another way to go with solar.”
“You essentially sign an agreement to buy so many kilowatt hours from a solar company at another location,” said Hopson, explaining net metering.
He said Hampshire Solar, a proposal from Weiss and the Hampshire Council of Governments, was offering a 21 percent discount of the net cost of electricity (after delivery and other charges). Hopson said the only drawback is if another cheaper way of getting electricity is discovered because the contract for net metering would be a fixed discounted rate for twenty years.
A vote on the motion to go with net metering was unanimously approved.

To Top