Michigan School Board Says No to Power Purchase Agreement

A Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) that was projected to save a Michigan school district close to $500,000 over 25 years was voted down last week.

In ongoing talks with the Lansing Board of Education, RER Energy Group proposed the construction of 1.5 MW solar array that would have consisted of 5,000 solar modules, expected to produce more than 1.7 million kWhs and save the school district $20,989 in the first year. Annual savings were expected to rise to $26,540.

However, concerns began to mount among school board representatives and residents. Among those concerns were rising costs tied to the project and changes to the original contract, which stated a savings amount almost double what the revised contract implied. Current board members were also hesitant to bind future board members into such a long-term agreement.

Other schools have successfully used PPAs to increase energy efficiency and lower costs. Colorado’s Boulder Valley School District approved a PPA in 2011 that offsets close to 15% of the school’s energy usage. This was just one phase of the school’s overall — and very ambitious — energy efficiency project.

And in 2013, Washington Gas Energy Systems signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with Rio Rancho Public Schools in New Mexico to build, own and operate two 1,215-kW solar arrays at Cleveland and Rio Rancho High Schools.

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