Black Horse Pike Regional School District Board of Education unanimously voted Thursday to approve a shared-services agreement joining it with Gloucester Township and Gloucester Township Public Schools on a solar energy project to be awarded to Sewell firm RAI Services and South Jersey Industries' Marina Energy.
The project will result in solar panels being erected at a total of nine sites in Gloucester Township and Runnemede, including at BHPRSD's Timber Creek and Triton high schools, according to Matthew Stanger, chief development officer for Camden-based Blue Sky Power LLC.
It is estimated the solar project will save the regional school district as much as $1.5 million in energy costs over a 15-year period, Stanger told the school board at its meeting at Triton Thursday night.
RAI Services and Marina Energy will install and control the solar panels and sell energy generated by the panels under the 15-year power purchase agreement, or PPA, which still must be finalized.
The solar panels will be installed at no cost to the school district, according to Stanger.
"In the aggregate, over the 15-year term, we're projecting about a $1.5 million savings for this school district," he said. "Again, for zero (dollars) out of pocket."
The current plan calls for solar panels to be installed in the retention basin in front of Timber Creek and on the roof atop Triton's library and media center.
Blue Sky projects the solar-energy plan will save the three governmental entities—Gloucester Township, Gloucester Township Public Schools and BHPRSD—$6.5 million over 15 years.
RAI Services and Marina Energy will sell electricity generated by the solar panels to the school districts and Gloucester Township at a significantly reduced rate—9.5 ¢ per kilowatt-hour in the first year, or 5.4 ¢ below the 15.9 ¢ September market rate for the Philadelphia area, according to the bid proposal.
At the end of the 15-year term, control of the solar panels on the Timber Creek and Triton properties will be turned over to the district for $1.
"The operation and maintenance costs obviously associated with it are relatively minimal," Stanger said.
The solar panels come with a 25-year guarantee, with an expected useful life of 30 to 40 years, Stanger noted.
BHPRSD school board Vice President Kevin Bucceroni noted the district will not be responsible for repairs to the solar panels unless it can be shown the damage resulted from negligence on the part of a district employee—such as a ladder being left near the fence surrounding the panels.
Blue Sky Power LLC is Gloucester Township's energy consultant.