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Schools in Montclair approve vendors of green energy projects

Montclair is one move closer to the schools being able to generate renewable electricity. Two firms, Eznergy, centered in Toms River, as well as Greenskies Renewable Energy headquartered in North Haven, Conn., have been given a solar panel contract by the school district. The award of the deal to those 2 firms was approved by the Board of Education on December 2. The solar panel initiative is the form of Energy Savings Improvement Program (ESIP) of district, a $11 million set of programs to help schools save money on long-term energy bills.

The deal is recognized as a lease-purchase arrangement. The district will accommodate its buildings with solar panels as well as infrastructure and purchase solar electricity from the two suppliers at a cheaper cost than much of its electricity is currently paying for. But Greenskies, which will be responsible for funding development, will own, run and maintain these panels; Eznergy will do the installation. Three other vendors filed bids: Biostar Renewables, based in Overland Park, Kan., HESP Solar, based in Montvale, as well as Sunvest Solar, based in Pewaukee, Wis. Jeff Hintzke, Greenskies’ vice president of strategy and emerging markets, stated Eznergy and Greenskies have collaborated with other school solar ventures.

Hintzke stated Montclair would pay Greenskies, at a rate cheaper than what the district actually finances for most of its power, for the power that is generated by the panels. The district’s analysts predict that even if they implemented the solar lease-purchase, together with the other ESIP initiatives, Montclair schools might save as much as $12 million in electricity costs. Under the deal, Eznergy, as well as Greenskies, will supply power at a base price of around $0.0049 per kilowatt-hour to a school system. The district has budgeted $1,139,205 in the year 2020-2021 financial plan for utilities.

Usually, solar panels generate between 250 and 500 watts, with average higher wattages for industrial and academic solar panels as well as typical lower wattages for the residential panels. For instance, a 400-watt solar panel that gets five hours of sunshine a day will generate 2,000 watts of solar power a day or two-kilowatt hours. That would mean adding to 730-kilowatt hours annually if the panel got five hours of direct sunshine a day for a year that would cost $3.58 under the negotiated base price. “For schools, that are a lot; schools are indeed stressed due to COVID-19,” stated Jim Brown, Eznergy’s president.

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