Clark-Pleasant plans second solar array project

A new solar array is planned at Clark-Pleasant schools to offset millions in future energy costs.

Administrators at Clark-Pleasant Community Schools are looking to have the solar array completed by the end of the calendar year at the Clark-Pleasant educational campus off Worthsville Road, between Clark-Pleasant Middle School and Grassy Creek Elementary School.

It would be the second solar panel field in the area, as one completed in April will accompany the summer opening of Ray Crowe Elementary School. Clark-Pleasant school board members will vote on a contractor for the second solar array Tuesday.

Although the cost and size of the solar array is yet to be determined, both will be finalized during the school board meeting, and the project won’t exceed $5 million. The district will pay for it using general obligation bonds as previous debt comes off the books, meaning there won’t be any property taxes associated with the solar panels.

The project likely won’t approach that $5 million figure, as school officials want to ensure there is enough in potential savings to justify the cost, said Jay Staley, the district’s business director.

Under current projections, the solar array would offset 60% to 65% of energy costs and save the district $2 million to $2.5 million over the course of 20 years, depending on the cost of the project, Staley said.

The project also comes with educational benefits, said Terry Lancer of Lancer + Beebe, the design criteria developer for the project.

“It would also be used as a learning tool for students to understand green energy and would likely provide live information to students so they could see how much electricity could be produced at a given time,” Lancer said.

Students would be able to view that information at the solar field and also on a web portal, something the district is working to develop, Staley said.

To get the solar field running by the end of the year, administrators hope to begin construction by late summer, he said.