Green Hits Snag in Solar Project
Monday, September 17, 2012 • 10:38pm
GREEN TOWNSHIP, NJ – A solar project the board of education was hoping would save taxpayers money is on hold indefinitely.
School business administrator Sallyann McCarty explained the project would have been reduced in scope to the point the savings would have been negligible.
“At the moment we’re not going forward,” she said. “Roofs have to support solar panels for 20 or 25 years. One section of our roof is halfway there.”
The alternative was to either replace a large section of roof or “cover the parking lot with solar panels and having parking underneath,” said Matthew Fox of the board of education.
The problem with that at the Green Hills School is the large number of old-growth trees surrounding the school.
“It takes 40 to 50 years for a tree to get that large,” McCarty said.
Somewhere between 12 and 18 would have to come down, she said.
Fox said this included the 10 largest trees on the property.
He also said the number of kilowatts that would be provided by the project dropped from 167 to 17.
McCarty said the school district will consider solar panels in the future if the technology changes.
“We don’t know what the future holds for solar,” she said.
Other school districts in Sussex County have been more successful with their solar projects.
The Byram Township School District is having solar panels installed on the parking lots of both Byram Lakes and Byram Intermediate schools, according to the school district website.
The construction company is working evenings and weekends to avoid disrupting school operations, the website notice, written by Brian Heinz, stated. It is anticipated to save approximately $494,000 over 15 years.
Byram will also install kiosks in the schools to help educate the children on the “positive impact of renewable energy on the environment,” the website said.
Newton Public Schools are also installing solar panels at two schools.
Superintendent of Schools G. Kennedy Greene said the Merriam Avenue School project includes a parking lot canopy. The canopy will cover four lanes of parking with 15 spots in each lane. The total parking lot consists of six lanes. No spaces will be lost because the posts are placed between parking spaces, Greene said.
The parking lot solution was chosen for the same reason it was an option at Green Hills School.
“Not every part of the roof could be used for solar panels,” Greene said. “So the solar contractor came in with plans for the parking lot.”
About two-thirds of the roof was useable, he said.
The roof at Newton High School was suitable for solar panels. The estimated savings from that solar project is about $20,000 a year.
Halsted Middle School will not have solar panels because of the size of the roof and the presence of trees in the neighborhood.
The schools received funding for solar projects through a Sussex County grant, Greene said.
Other schools with solar projects are Sussex County Technical School, Frankford Township School, High Point Regional High School, Franklin Borough School, and Kittatinny Regional High School.
The county grant also assisted with solar projects at Sussex County Community College, the Newton Wastewater Treatment Plant, Wheatsworth Road County Facility in Hardyston Township, and the Sussex County Library System Main Library.