Thursday, March 22, 2012

Solar Energy Could Save Bangor Schools $600K

In a pitch sweetened by government incentives, an alternative energy developer seeking to build a solar array near Bangor says it can save the school district up to $600,000 a year.

Bangor Area School District officials said they've signed a letter of intent with a Marshalls Creek company to investigate building a $14 million solar panel farm on district property.

The same company has proposed an 11-megawatt solar farm to be used by the Stroudsburg School District.

In Bangor, a combination of roof-mounted and ground-based panels, the array could stretch across 16 acres and generate 4.7 megawatts of electricity, company representatives said.

"I think the opportunity is there," said Herbert Ortiz, CEO of Solar Energy is Power Inc.

In his letter of intent — that does not obligate the school district to follow through on the deal — Ortiz estimates he could save the district more than $100,000 in the array's first year of operation.

He has offered to pay $1,200 an acre to lease land, on top of a starting discounted electricity rate of 9 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Company officials are making their play for the school district's business at a breakneck pace, saying they need commitments before subsidies expire and project financing collapses.

Though last Monday was his first time meeting school directors face-to-face, Ortiz predicted his project could be up and running within nine months.

But it comes with complications. If Bangor moves forward with the project, the district would be dealing with at least three separate companies. Solar Energy Is Power is just the middleman, setting up deals with banks that would finance the project and form a corporation to maintain the solar panels.

Another company, Solar Nation, would build it.


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