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Solar Panels Installed At Two New Providence, NJ Schools

Solar panels at two New Providence schools should cut energy costs

Published: Monday, August 20, 2012, 2:00 PM     Updated: Monday, August 20, 2012, 4:31 PM

NEW PROVIDENCE — New Providence has installed solar panels on two of its schools, moving the district into the twenty-first century on energy use.
School District Business Administrator James Testa said last week that solar panels were installed at both the high school and Allen W. Roberts Elementary School this summer.
The solar panels were installed courtesy of the Union County Improvement Authority. There will be no out-of-pocket expenses for the district. “The Union County Improvement Authority covered all costs for the installation,” Testa said.
The district is “doing it for the savings and to be green,” Testa said. The school has a lease purchase agreement on the system and “whatever we generate, we buy back from the company that handles the solar array,” he said.
The company for the Renewable Energy Program, California-based Tioga Energy, Inc., installs, maintains and operates the solar installations. Tioga will handle the maintenance and service of the solar panels under a 15-year contract with the county.
The district has a reduced rate under the agreement. “We generate electricity that flows through Tioga’s meters and, based upon the number of kilowatts generated, the district pays its reduced rate,” Testa said.
Asked what the savings is expected to be, Testa said, “I’ve budgeted about 7% less for electric charges for these two schools,” which is less than the energy company predicted. The district hasn’t seen any bills yet. “We haven’t even started getting any type of generation reports” or the July bills, he said, adding that this isn’t unusual. The utility “is always a month behind with the bill.”
He predicted that it would take about a year to have a good sense of how much money the district will save in coming years, but he has no doubt the annual cost of electricity will be “definitely less.”
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