The Hawkins County Board of Education is in the process of adding 17 new solar sites to schools and property throughout the county.
Bulls Gap School, Church Hill Intermediate and Clinch School each have roof-mount solar panels and are the first schools in the state to produce solar energy with the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Generation Partnership Program.
“We are pleased with the technical and financial performance of the 400 kilowatts of solar generating capacity already in place at Bulls Gap, Clinch and Church Hill Intermediate schools and are eager to expand the program as much as possible,” Director of Hawkins County Schools Charlotte Britton said.
The 17 new solar sites will include six roof-mount sites and 11 ground-mount sites.
“When we are finished with phase two of our solar project in late April, 2013, we will be able to produce a total of 1,625,000 kWh of electricity each year,” Hawkins County Schools Director of Maintenance and Facilities Bill Shedden said. “Enough electricity will be sold back to TVA to run over 150 normal-size households for a year.”
The projected revenue to Hawkins County Schools from the 20 solar sites will be $875,000 over a 20-year period, or $43,750 annually, according to Hawkins County Schools officials.
A one-time revenue of $1,000 per site is also expected to be earned this year, which would bring the total revenue from the first year’s solar production to $63,750.
The $7 million investment, which was first approved by the board of education in September of 2011, will be funded by thirdparty investors and requires no investment or net expense by Hawkins County Schools, according to school system officials.
The Hawkins County Schools Solar Project has generated interest among other school systems and organizations as well, officials add, asserting that several groups have visited the solar sites and at least eight other school systems across the state have called to discuss solar energy with Shedden.
“I know of at least two school systems in Tennessee that are in the process of moving forward with their own solar installation, and I know two additional systems are very close to signing agreements,” Shedden said.
The project plan and strategy were developed jointly with John Atkins of TerraShares, a green systems developer located in Morristown and the project’s general contractor is Atlantabased Hannah Solar, LLC.
Hannah Solar helped attract capital from Distributed Solar Holdings, LLC (DISH) of Charlotte, N.C., officials said, which acquired the overall project and will own and operate the solar energy system for the 20-year term of the TVA contract.
Comer Electric Company, a Morristown electrical contractor, is undertaking all electrical installations. Johnson City based architects Beeson, Lusk, & Street, Inc. are providing roof and structural analyses and certifications.
Holston Electric Cooperative has worked to facilitate the approval by TVA and insure the solar sites are working properly to generate the power back to the TVA grid.