Solar panels installed on roofs at Millville schools

Published: Wednesday, August 3, 2012
Written by Chris Torres

 

MILLVILLE — A green energy project that would cut $900,000 a year in costs for the city’s school district while helping improve the environment is nearly complete, officials say.

The $7.6 million project about 80 percent done, according to Steven Moreno, a project manager for the energy company Johnson Controls. He expects it to be finished in September after a year of work.

Solar Panels at Lakeside Middle School
Lakeside Middle School in Millville has solar panels on its rooftop to reduce costs and produce cleaner energy. Bryce Kell, district business administrator, looks over a portion of the many solar panels. / Staff photo/Craig Matthews


More than 1,500 solar panels were installed on the roofs of Lakeside Middle School and Millville Senior High School, among other upgrades. All schools in the district received upgrades to either their lighting, heating, ventilation or air conditioning equipment.

The Senior High School also received new boilers. The old boilers had been operating since 1964 and needed to be replaced, according to Board of Education member Mike Beatty.Business Administrator Bryce Kell said the district commissioned an energy audit to identify potential savings, which was funded by a state program.

The project is funded by a bank loan through Johnson Controls. The $900,000 in cuts will be used to repay Johnson Controls annually over the next 12 years. Garrison Architects of Marlton, the District's Architect of Record, assisted in publically bidding the construction.

“We would have normally had to have gone out and get voter approval, and the process of issuing bonds,” Kell said. “The legislation allows districts to borrow money without going through the bonding process, as long as it’s paid back within 15 years.”

The energy costs normally account for gas, electric and maintenance.“

I think anytime we can reduce our carbon footprint is a great thing,”Kell said.

The solar panels at Lakeside were installed on the auditorium roof, while at the Senior High School panels cover only the roof of the C-Hall. The C-Hall was selected because it was the only roof at the school strong enough to support the panels, according to Moreno.The

Lakeside panel system is 225 kilowatts, while the high school’s is 135 kw, Moreno said.

The panels will be beneficial in the event of power outages. They’re fairly easy to install and require no maintenance, according to Moreno.“

Even on a cloudy day they’re still generating (energy),” he added. “On sunny days it’s a home run. It’s a great use of the rooftops.”


 

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