West Nottingham Academy to run completely on solar power
jiannetta@ cecilwhig. com
— West Nottingham Academy will soon run completely on solar power thanks to the planned installation of about 3,500 solar panels on the boarding school’s property.
The school came before the county planning commission earlier this month to get approval for a special exception for a solar power generation facility that would take up roughly four acres of unused land
on its property on Firetower Road in Colora. Because the site is zoned Northern Agricultural Residential, the school needed to get a special exception for the solar array, which it received, said Gary Huss, WNA business manager.
Construction is expected to start in November, he added.
WNA will be partnering on the project with Solar City, a San Mateo, Calif.based company and one of the country’s largest solar array builders. Solar City will build and operate the 1,122.66- kilowatt array, and the power generated will be sold back to the school under a power purchase agreement.
“We think it will really help the school,” Huss said. “We’re always looking for additional sources of revenue and this is one of them.”
The only cost to the school — other than the use of its land — is installing a component to connect to the Delmarva power grid, Huss said. Not only will the school get a rebate on its electricity bill, it will also get additional revenue from the sale of the power it doesn’t use, he added.
Huss wasn’t sure what the exact savings to the school would be, but said it would likely be significant, noting that WNA is allowed to produce at most double the power it can use.
For Solar City’s part, it receives valuable federal tax credits and reaps the difference between the negotiated and market rates on excess electricity sent back to the grid.
WNA decided to move forward with the solar array after it was approached by Solar City and realized it could reap significant cost savings through the arrangement, Huss said. The county found the arrangement similarly attractive and this week announced it too had signed a PPA with Solar City to build two arrays, one at the Cecil County Administration Building off Route 40 and another at the Highlands Spray Irrigation Site located in the Highlands community near the northern Delaware border.
Though WNA and the county are Solar City’s first customers in the county, they’re not the only county organizations embracing solar power. Cecil County Public Schools has three solar arrays and Mount Aviat Academy, the town of Elkton and IKEA all each have one array.
In June, Cecil College also started negotiations with San Francisco-based NRG Renew LLC to purchase solar power from a solar array that will eventually be built on the company’s land in Vienna.
West Nottingham Academy plans to install 3,500 solar panels on this four-acre site on its property in Colora.
This photo shows what the solar panels at West Nottingham Academy might look like once installed.