During its sixth round of solar projects, the Cape and Vineyard Electrical Cooperative wants to bring solar power to the Falmouth Public Schools.
CVEC executive director Liz Argo is working with energy committee chairwoman Megan Amsler and Rosemary Dreger-Carey, the CVEC representative for Falmouth, to discuss rooftop and parking lot solar canopy options with the school committee.
“I have met with Mr. [R. Partick] Murphy at least three or four times, trying to get something going,” Ms. Argo told the select board at its meeting on January 11. “Hopefully, this time we will connect with the ball.”
Board member Samuel H. Patterson agreed there is an opportunity for green energy at the public schools.
“They dominate the town’s facilities, and really provide a huge opportunity,” Mr. Patterson said. “They would be the department that would have to interface with anybody who would like to do a project like that.”
Ms. Argo said the Cape and Vineyard Electrical Cooperative is no stranger to bringing solar to schools. The cooperative has 25 photovoltaic projects installed at Cape Cod schools, eight of which also include battery storage.
“Basically, the average school installation is bringing forward between $40,000 to $50,000 to the towns in a year,” she said. “That is within one year. Going with [a photovoltaic array] is definitely a smart move.”
Ms. Argo presented a chart showing the annual energy cost at the various Falmouth schools from 2014.
“It is quite ancient, but it shows you the schools we were looking at back then, the electricity they were burning back then, which I’m sure has gone up, and the total cost to the town not having these met with any net metering credits,” Ms. Argo said.
In 2014 the Falmouth Public Schools had a total estimated energy cost of $1,026,038, ranging from $16,510 at the school administration building to $380,172 at the high school.
“This $1 million is something we would like to see disappear for you,” Ms. Argo said.
Mr. Patterson asked what sort of impact a photovoltaic array would have on a rooftop replacement project.
“It is not desirable,” Ms. Argo said. “You do not want to put solar installations on top of older roofs. You want to make sure that your roofs are not more than 10 years old.”
If the town knows a roof needs replacement, the town should not put a solar array on it, she said.
“That is part of what CVEC vets as we go around and check out potential projects,” Ms. Argo said. “That is the first question on our list.”
There is language with the CVEC contract about how to handle a roof replacement if one is needed after a PV system is installed.
“It will be expensive in the sense that you do have to make the vendor whole for some of the time their project is down, because these are third-party developments with no capital cost to the towns,” Ms. Argo said. “There is a third party that we will find who will own the project, and they need to be assured of a certain amount of income per year in order to finance the project.”
The contract allows for a grace period for repairs to be made.
“You don’t want to leave your PV off for a year because eventually, there needs to be a collection made by the developer,” she said.
CVEC deputy director Maria Marasco said the organization is also installing carport canopies. Ms. Argo said CVEC will install solar canopies at Sandwich High School, Nauset Middle School and two Mashpee schools.
“Roofs is preferable, but if your roof is ancient and you have a good parking lot, you could look at a solar canopy,” she said. “It is well incentivized by the state.”
CVEC also has an electric vehicle initiative.
“We are helping towns get their EV cars and charging stations using the state incentive programs,” Ms. Argo said.
Mr. Patterson said he would connect CVEC with the Falmouth Economic Development and Industrial Corporation, which is considering an electric vehicle charging station at the Falmouth Station on Depot Avenue.
CVEC was founded in 2007 and now serves 27 municipal members from on and off Cape Cod. Since its founding, CVEC has generated more than $17 million in energy savings for its member communities.
“I had no idea how many projects you had going on across the Cape,” Mr. Patterson said. “It is very impressive.”