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Dist. 84 Board Considering Purchase of Grant-Funded Solar System | News, Sports, Jobs

SLEEPY EYE — Action items on the May 11 Sleepy Eye School Board agenda include a solar panel purchase, facility lease, and power purchase agreements, funded by a grant from the ‘State Solar for Schools.

Last month, Sleepy Eye Superintendent John Cselovszki told the board that the school district had received two Solar for School grants he said could reduce electricity rates by about 20% if solar projects on the roofs were approved.

“When I see $5 worth of diesel (fuel) now, I think anything we can do to reduce energy costs is valuable. I’m excited to be a part of it,” said Cselovszki.

The Solar for Schools grant program was created by the state legislature in 2021 to stimulate the installation of solar power systems in Minnesota K-12 public schools, state colleges, and universities.

Sleepy Eye solar project applications are reviewed by Ideal Energies Inc. of Minneapolis after a visit to the school to obtain the information necessary to determine the feasibility of designing and installing a solar project above the secondary and elementary school buildings.

If approved, Ideal will submit a full grant application and interconnection agreements to utility companies. Ideal would then build the projects above the school this summer or early fall.

Grants will cover up to 95% of project costs for schools, based on financial need. In addition to reducing energy costs, the projects provide students with hands-on learning about solar energy and renewable energy technology.

Cselovszki said the solar projects are expected to save the school district $7,579 a year in energy costs.

“They will sell the (solar) energy and we will get 20% back,” said Cselovszki.

He added that the total system cost for the life cycle (20 years) is $227,978. Installation costs are $174,640; maintenance costs $34,665 and total energy value $315,840 after 20 years.

“We will own the solar systems after 20 years. Then we can pay to have it recycled or kept,” said Cselovszki.

The process includes help from Ideal Energies to monitor electrical usage and production and dispatch service to the field if needed.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce reported that demand from Solar for Schools exceeded available funds. The Department of Commerce received 122 applications for $11.8 million in grant applications, $4.6 million against the program’s budget of $7.2 million.

Other schools on track for undergraduate funding include Fairmont, Marshall, Redwood Area, St. James, St. Peter and Windom.

The council meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in the school’s conference room.

(Fritz Busch can be emailed to [email protected])

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