Saving with solar: Noblesville Schools to implement alternative energy at three locations

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Noblesville Schools Associate Supt. Dave Mundy said the reason for tapping solar panel at three of the district’s schools is two-fold: It saves money and it’s better for the environment.

Mundy recently held an informational meeting at each of the three schools slated for solar energy conversion: White River Elementary, Promise Road Elementary and Noblesville West Middle School.

“Solar has a huge impact, not only the environmental part, which we believe in, but solar also has a fiscal impact on schools, which is unique to the school system and very beneficial when we want to help our teachers,” Mundy said.

The $3 million project is estimated to annually save the district $250,000 to $300,000  during the next 30 to 40 years.

“We pay two things out of our operations budget, salaries and bills,” Mundy said. “Ninety-five percent of it goes to salaries, and 5 percent pays the bills. (Solar energy) is one of the areas we can save money on. That is $250,000 to $300,000 a year we are allowed to use to help with teacher salaries and support staff salaries. That’s a huge deal, especially with the way Indiana finances are being run right now.

“We are lessening the overall bills, and we wouldn’t do that on other energy sources. That allows us to use that money toward salaries and other benefits for teachers.”

The district spends pproximately $1.5 million each year on energy expenses for lighting, heating and air and technology tools.

Solar panel fields are planned to be installed at three locations. Two will be installed at Hague Road and 196th Street, to service NWMS the district’s transportation center, and one will be built behind Promise Road Elementary on marshy land the district already owns. The third field will be in front of White River Elementary. The field will be surrounded by fencing and a windscreen.

“We will not interfere with the cross country area and the courses out there,” Mundy said of the White River Elementary field.

The solar panels will be funded through a current bond and will not required a raise in the school tax rate. The project also won’t use referendum dollars.

Throughout the next several decades, school officials say solar enery could save the district between $6 million and $12 million.

Construction on the NWMS field began this month and is expected to finished by July 31.

Construction on the Promise Road Elementary location is set to begin March 20 and be complete by Aug. 7. Construction on the White River Elementary field is set to begin May 21 and be complete by Aug. 28.

“This is an opportunity for us to do something that’s going to have a major, long-lasting impact for our community,” Mundy said. “We, as a community and society, are so used to seeing (solar fields). They blend in, and it’s what we should be looking for down the road. They will look very nice.” 

For more, visit noblesvilleschools.org.

A learning opportunity

Besides cost savings and environmental benefits, Noblesville Schools Associate Supt. Dave Mundy said there’s a third sound reason for using solar energy.

“There’s a huge educational component to solar. We have so many people entering the engineering field and so many people going into the environmental field,” Mundy said. “Solar has a huge learning capacity for grades K through 12 that we are able to use. We also are planning on using some of the interns at the high school to be involved in this project, so they’ll get some first-hand knowledge of using solar and how it works.”



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