District 51 board OKs solar-energy units for four schools

Four District 51 schools will have new roof-top solar power units by the end of 2013, thanks to unanimous approval Tuesday from the District 51 School Board to approve a contract for the installations.

Boulder-based commercial solar panel installation company Namaste Solar will begin work soon on the project, which will place solar units atop parts of Central, Fruita Monument and Grand Junction high schools and Nisley Elementary School. The schools were chosen because their roofs can support the weight of the units and are expected to last throughout the 20 year life span of a contract that allows Namaste to install and own the units while the district pays for the solar energy produced by the units.

District 51 Resource Conservation Manager Eric Anderson estimated the district will save $2.1 million in energy bills over 20 years once the rooftop-mounted units are operational, which he said should happen by Dec. 31. The district anticipates an additional $3 million-plus worth of savings will come from the installation of solar units atop seven other District 51 over the last few years.

“Those systems are performing above projections,” he told school board members.

Anderson said the 11 total schools are likely the last to meet the strength and age requirements for hosting the units.

Board members voted 5-0 to approve a contract with Namaste.

Tuesday was the board’s first meeting with new member John Williams, who was sworn in before the meeting. Board President Greg Mikolai selected Williams for the post Monday after board members failed to reach a majority vote to appoint a new school board members from among six candidates at an interview forum July 30. The seat was left vacant June 2 by the death of Harry Butler.

State statutes give a board 60 days from the time a vacancy occurs to pick a new member with a 3-1 or 4-0 vote. If that does not happen within 60 days, as was the case with Butler’s vacancy, state law directs the board president to decide whom to appoint to fill a vacancy.


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Great news! That’s a lot of money that can now be put to educating students!

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