Wauseon schools firing up solar energy

Also updating lighting

By David J. Coehrs - dcoehrs@aimmediamidwest.com

Wauseon schools plan to significantly clip energy costs with the installation, possibly by year’s end, of two solar fields and LED lighting for the entire district.

The Board of Education on Monday approved authorization for Superintendent Larry Brown and Treasurer Dave Fleming to pursue a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Indiana-based Entrust, Ltd. for each project. Jeff Feasby, Entrust engineering and operations manager, said both projects, which will be assisted by grant and federal programs, can be completed by no later than January.

The agreements will make Wauseon schools the first in Fulton County with solar energy programs.

The 1.02-megawatt solar energy system will provide 70 percent of the school district’s electrical power through the installation of panel array fields behind the primary and elementary schools. The district, which currently pays 12 cents per kilowatt hour, will pay Entrust a 25-year fixed rate of nine cents per kilowatt hour through the PPA, resulting in an immediate savings of $50,827 annually. After the 25-year PPA expires, the district may purchase the solar field for one dollar, which would offer a total savings of $12.7 million after 30 years.

The solar field array will cost nothing upfront, and will be maintained by Entrust over the life of the PPA. Feasby said the solar equipment has a life expectancy of at least 40 years.

He said a lighting PPA will involve replacing the school district’s 3,448 interior and exterior lighting fixtures with LED bulbs. At a total cost of $852,460 over 10 years, the agreement has a 10-year warranty and maintenance provision, and will save the district approximately $60,978 in electrical energy costs annually.

Because the district’s lighting is not in constant use, the project cannot include the football field.

Combined, the solar and lighting projects will ultimately save the school district approximately $287,000 in energy costs over the first 10 years of operation. Feasby said the projects’ energy savings will eventually pay for the lighting system, resulting in no out-of-pocket expense for the school district for either project.

“I feel like (we’re) helping the environment and doing a good thing,” he said of the “green” energy features of both projects.

In a released statement, Brown said because solar power is a renewable energy source that doesn’t cause CO2 emissions, “(t)his is one aspect that makes it one of the most interesting systems for producing energy from the environmental perspective…We are proud to bring ‘green energy’ concepts to our students and the entire school community.”

Entrust also has solar power agreements with the Tinora and Antwerp school districts.

In other business, the board approved the following donations: a stair tower package with steps from Biljax to the high school marching band; $700 from the UAW Local 86 Golf Tournament to Wauseon Village Exempted Schools; to the Wauseon Athletic Department, in memory of Louie Brock – $15 from Lee and Leona Hunter, $20 each from Rex and Ronna Rice and Betty Hoffman, $25 each from Donald and Ila Frank, Jon and Alice Leatherman, and Barbara Kurth, $30 each from Allen and Sue Lane and Beverly Hollingsworth, $50 each from Steven and Michelle Graber, Russell Paxson, and Alva and Carol Ames, $100 each from Troy and Dawn Mahnke, Ed and Mary Gajdostik, Tri-County Block and Brick, Inc., and Blue Ribbon Diner LLC, and $810 from Sue Brock.

In personnel issues, the board approved: the resignation of primary school teacher Ruth Solarik for retirement, effective June 1, 2019; one-year limited classified contracts for Tiffany Emery and Amber Zuidema as elementary school/middle school two-hour cooks, pending clean background checks; and one-year limited outside athletic supplemental contracts to Joe Henson as eighth grade girls basketball coach and Matt Mennetti as seventh grade girls basketball coach, each pending a clean background check and a Pupil Activity permit.

Board members also approved a $4,500 “then and now” certificate for Tyler Technologies for support and maintenance; the school district’s assistant treasurer/human resources officer as credit card compliance officer for all Wauseon EVSD credit cards; the first reading of 35 bylaw policy revisions from educational consultant Neola, Inc., including for regular and special meetings, executive sessions, equal employment opportunity, anti-harassment, Title 1 services, drug and alcohol testing, and in-school discipline.

Brown said the Neola revisions are in response to legislative action this summer by Ohio’s House and Senate.

And the board approved the Fiscal Year 2019-2023 five-year forecast.

The school board entered into an executive session to discuss employment of personnel. No action was taken.

Also updating lighting

By David J. Coehrs


Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.