Sigourney Schools Go Solar

SIGOURNEY- Joining the Pekin School District, Sigourney Schools recently completed a major project that will eventually see significant energy savings for the district. The Sigourney School District has now become the second school district in Keokuk County to install solar panels on school buildings. According to Superintendent Dave Harper, the elementary school, bus barn, and Keokuk County Career Academy all now boast solar panel installations.

“We talked to Red Lion and Atwood Electric and they built us a plan through that where we could put solar panels on our bus barn, elementary and career academy,” Harper said.

Red Lion and Atwood Electric also formed the partnership with Pekin Schools last year as the District installed solar panels. Harper said that, like Pekin, there was no cost upfront to the Sigourney School District for the system.

“We entered into a power purchase agreement with Red Lion and Atwood. No costs to the district up front. They would install it. They found investors for it. For the first six years, this LLC would receive the tax credits,” he said.

Harper also emphasized that much of the investors for the system were local.

“They tried to keep it all local,” Harper said of Red Lion.

With the installation of the solar panel system, the Sigourney School District will now be able to convert up to 80 percent of their electrical use from solar. For the first six years, the District will pay Alliant Energy and Red Lion.

“We pay Alliant for what we’re not reducing our solar on and then we pay Red Lion a utility bill. What’s neat about the solar is that we’re able to get our electricity at eight cents a kilowatt. We were paying, at the time, 12 cents a kilowatt to Alliant. Now there’s been a rate increase in there, so we would see a savings upfront in the first six years of $10-15,000,” Harper said.

After six years, Harper said the district plans to buy out the entire solar system. Doing so would allow for the district to receive the entire savings from the solar system and apply it towards the district’s general fund. If the district decides to buyout the system before year six, the cost to the district will be $618,490. However, by waiting to buyout the system in year six, that buyout price drops to $396,500. Harper said the district is setting aside money each year to make that purchase.

For more on this story and others, catch the April 10 edition of the News-Review.