CALN The proposal to bring solar power to the high school campus of the Coatesville Area School District was intended to provide a feasible, cost-saving green energy resource and save money on utility costs.
But the school district continues to delay approving the power purchase agreement called the Coatesville Solar Initiative.
It is the only thing is standing in the way for the project to move another step forward.
Our timing could not have been worse, said Harry Bob Keares, managing partner and President of Keares Electric who is promoting the initiative. During the first week of the school year, Superintendent Richard Como resigned and the board has been under fire from the community and the press. The board and their attorney are distracted and CSI has not reappeared on a school board meeting agenda since the Como investigation and the allegations began.
According to Keares, Coatesville Area School Districts attorney informed the company that the power purchase agreement would not appear on Tuesday, Jan. 28, agenda.
Meeting minutes from Aug. 13, 2013, indicate school board members unanimously approved the preliminary agreement.
It seems as if we have a clock that keeps getting reset and the game keeps going into overtime, Keares said. We have given the school district a very good deal. In fact, this is a great opportunity for CASD.
For the past two years, the project has gone through plan development and approval from both Caln Commissioners and school board members, but the approval has been pushed off the agenda for the past few months.
Were caught in a Catch 22 situation, Keares said. Without a completed power purchase agreement from the district, we cannot finalize project financing and one of the Caln Township conditions prohibits us from beginning site work without a power purchase agreement in place.
The last time the item appeared on the agenda was when school board members approved tabling the item for final approval on Sept. 24.
School board president Neil Campbell said the terms of the agreement and the amount of kilowatt hours are agreed upon by both parties.
Its just a matter of cleaning up some language in the contract and to clean up every bit of language to make sure we are representing the district well, he said, hoping the item will appear on the agenda in February.
The $25 million project will come at no cost to the school district. According to CSI representatives working on the project, $15 million is expected to be spent locally, and a local jobs program has been developed to hire two or three residents who live at the Carvers Court development on Rd. to work on the solar project.
Keares said his company is also looking to install LED lighting on the main campus at the high school, lighting poles with LED lights at Rainbow Elementary, install three electric vehicle charging stations valued, provide an electric vehicle to the school district and provide three solar education kiosks that can be shared throughout the district. He said these additional projects would cost $372,700.
A three-story solar education facility and conference center will also be constructed.
He said the school district would not have to use taxpayers money for the additional projects planned on top of the construction of the solar field. The only thing they need to do is agree to purchase power at the fixed rates.
For the first three years of the agreement, the school district would pay $0.0765 per kilowatt hours for power at the high school; for the next seven years the district would pay $0.09 per kilowatt hour; and over the course of the 25 year agreement the district would average $0.1024 per kilowatt hours, according to CSI documents.
Currently, the school district is paying approximately $0.0768 per kilowatt hour at the high school campus.
Keares said he wanted to create a project for the school district that would not only improve the operations of the school district, but something that would directly benefit the students. But he said the continued delay by the school district is hindering the benefits of the solar initiative from breaking ground.
Weve worked with Caln Township, residents and the school district in good faith every step of the way. A project that will provide jobs, unprecedented educational opportunities and notoriety for our area is now in serious jeopardy, Keares said. Multi-million dollar construction projects, no matter how well intended, simply cannot endure endless delays and indecision.
Coatesville Area School Boards regularly scheduled meeting is Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. in the 9/10 Center auditorium located at 1425 Lincoln Highway East.
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