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Moniteau sees savings through solar power

Moniteau Jr./Sr. High School in Cherry Township runs on solar power. Butler Eagle file photo

Powered by the sun, Moniteau Jr./Sr. High School will continue saving on electricity this summer while generating surplus energy with the use of solar panels.

Jeff Campbell, director of buildings and grounds at Moniteau School District presented some preliminary analysis on the subject during a school board meeting Monday, May 20, through a portal that monitors energy rate and consumption, among other data.

Surplus energy is sold back to Central Electric Cooperative, leading to a lower electrical bill, Campbell said.

The solar panels will keep generating power in the summertime, he said.

“Once school goes out, (energy) consumption goes down — we’ll watch how much we sell,” Campbell said.

Moniteau’s solar project involves about 4,000 panels, including ground-mounted panels that were installed at Dassa McKinney Elementary School in a field. The high school has been running on solar power since April 16, Campbell said.

Campbell said one of the solar inverters at Dassa McKinney was damaged during a storm. The district will receive a new solar inverter sometime this week, he told board directors. According to superintendent Aubrie Schnelle, the elementary school is expected to start generating solar power sometime in the summer.

In response to board president Michael Panza’s question regarding whether solar panels could generate heat for the building, Campbell said the use of electrical boilers could be an option if the energy-efficient endeavor were funded by grants.

Without grants, implementing boilers at the cost of $240,000 would not be financially feasible, he said.

Moniteau’s solar project was undertaken through a purchase power agreement with help from environmental design firm BAI Group at no cost to the district through the use of federal tax credits.

The project also involved the replacement of the high school roof, which needed to be dealt with before the solar panels could be installed. The project saved the district $2.1 million with the installation of the new roof.

In August, former board director Michael Baptiste said the solar panels would save the district about $125,000 a year in electricity costs.

Monday evening, Campbell told board directors he would provide periodic updates on energy consumption and usage. The district will have a clearer idea of cost-saving figures in the next few months as electric bills come in.

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