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Solar Energy

Residents are set to vote on the Southern Cayuga Central School District's proposed capital project for a solar panel array.

A public hearing and vote are scheduled for January on a proposal for a $1.5 million project to create an approximately 750 kilowatt solar panel system on the district's campus, according to a news release. The district would partner with Renovus Solar in Ithaca to make the 3-acre system, which the district said is estimated to meet 45 percent of the district's annual electrical needs and save more than $30,000 annually, the press release said.

District Superintendent Patrick Jensen said the project is in line with the district's other recent efforts, such as a past capital project in which the majority of the district's indoor lights were replaced with more efficient LED lights and a 12 kilowatt solar array was installed on the roof. 

"I think it's a part of our long-term plan to become more efficient," Jensen said.

The initiative as proposed qualifies for the highest grant available from the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority, at 45 cents per watt for solar projects 750 kilowatts or below, the press release said.

Over 80 percent of the project's cost would be covered by $877,083 in state building aid and $337,669 from the development authority. The remaining amount would be paid by credits from New York State Electric & Gas for energy produced on campus, so the project is not expected to raise local taxes. Jensen said the array is estimated to produce $55,000 in credits. Of that amount, $26,000 would be spent on the project's local share, with a remaining $32,000 in savings.

If the project is approved, the district hopes to secure state approval by March or April 2019, with construction starting July 1 and the project ending in October.

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Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or kelly.rocheleau@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.

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Education Reporter