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District approves solar panels for school roofs

All of Farmington’s school buildings will grow solar gardens on their roofs following a decision Monday by the Farmington School Board.

The district approved an agreement with Sundial Solar and investor Kenyon Energy to install the panels, which will generate power for local providers and create savings for the district on an electric bill that currently runs about $960,000 per year. Sundial’s Art Crowell estimated those savings could add up to $74,250 in the first year of the deal and go up from there.

The district will not pay anything up front for the project. Kenyon Energy will be responsible for the cost of installing and maintaining the panels and will keep some of the savings to cover its costs.

When the district discussed the possibility of installing the panels last fall finance director Jane Houska said the district would bank its savings in the early years with plans to buy them when it has the opportunity. The contract says the district has an option to buy the panels outright after seven or 15 years or at the end of the contract term.

“We’re pretty excited about it and really hope it comes to fruition,” Houska said when the board discussed the panels last October. “For the next 25 years it will be a revenue generator for the district.”

They will be installed in a way that does not affect the warranties of the new roofs that are scheduled to go on several of the district’s buildings.

Other action

School board members also voted Monday to reject a proposed project labor agreement that would have regulated contractors working on some of the bigger projects the district will complete this year.

Adam Hanson, director of government and political affairs for the Association of Builders and Contractors, argued during the meeting’s public comment period that such agreements tend to drive up project costs and limit the number of bidders.

Superintendent Jay Haugen said such agreements can be useful on bigger projects to ensure work gets done on schedule.

Board members voted 4-1 against the agreement. Chair Julie Singewald was the only one to support it.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

(651) 460-6606
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