Kingsport City Schools votes to move forward with solar energy plan

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KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL)- Tuesday night Kingsport City School leaders voted to move forward with a plan that would allow for solar panels to be installed on school buildings and property.

“You have a utility company in Appalachian Electric Power that’s offering the solar credit for allocation and the school systems are at a perfect place to take advantage of it,” says Steve Seifried, Ameresco’s Tennessee Account Executive.

For the past year- Ameresco- a sustainable energy company has been researching the possibility and benefits the school system using solar panels for some of their energy use.

“We actually get boots on the ground in the schools, in the roof lines, on top of roofs and just check the structural integrity of roofs,” said Seifried.

The board’s vote means that the project will begin to move faster- which will increase the value of the work being done.

“The longer projects take to develop the more the cost, not only because materials cost more, but also tax laws change on how much tax credits can be applied to a project like this,” said Seifried.

In addition to those savings- the school board will have no capital costs in the project- potentially saving $3 million dollars over the next 20 years according to the district’s Chief Financial Officer David Frye.

“We’re going to have Ameresco own the project, own the solar panels where we will just be purchasing the power from them,” said Frye.

If the school system backs out- it will cost them $40,000.

“If we decide to opt out of the project at this point, we will in turn need to pay Ameresco some money for what they have invested into the project,” said Frye.

In the next few weeks, the company will be determining where the solar panels will go on school property and exact dollar amounts when it comes to energy savings.

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