Well, Sedona Red Rock High School is going to take advantage of the sun’s energy by creating a solar panel farm to power nearly half of what the school uses. The school will install enough panels this spring to supply more than 800,000 watts of power. They will be at two locations, the largest on the west end of the campus at State Route 89A and Upper Red Rock Loop Road.
“The system will provide between one-third and one-half of what the school uses, depending on the amount of sun we get and the school’s energy use,” the school’s representative for the project, Dave Young, said. “That’s a significant amount.”
The remainder of the power needed will come from APS, as it does now but the bill will less.
Young said the system will bring a big benefit to the school beyond the power it supplies. The cost of utilities is part of the maintenance and operations budget, which also provides teacher salaries and school supplies. So any amount of reduction can make a significant impact on the budget, he said.
The solar system will be completely paid for by money from the $73.5 million bond Sedona voters approved in 2007. It is the same fund that is paying for all of the renovations on the campus. The total cost for the project is a little more than $5 million, but APS is offering an incentive of $1.8 million.
“So our net cost is around $3.5 million, and we will own the system outright,” Young said. “There’ve been a lot of projects done, including making the buildings more energy efficient, and the panels are the next step in that process.”
About 1,000 panels will be placed on the south side of the campus behind the classroom buildings. The energy produced will power the needs of the new performing arts building. The panels will also provide the opportunity for science classes to study solar energy and how the system is working, according to Young.
“We’re also going for LEED Gold Status on the performing arts building. We get points for having on-site renewable energy. The more points you get, the higher the certification,” Young said. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is connected with the U.S. Green Building Council.
What the gold status means to the school is that it will be recognized as being built to environment and design standards to perform at optimal efficiency, and the school receives a plaque from the USGBC to that effect.
“It will give the building a good reputation in the performing arts industry, and will attract more people to the venue,” Young said.
With the system, the school cannot produce more energy than it can use, and must work with APS. With the number of panels producing 826Kw, Young said they are at the maximum.
Construction is expected to begin the end of May. The plans will be sent to APS and the city of Sedona the end of March. The panels are guaranteed for 20 years, but Young said they will probably last longer.
The total project will be comprised of 3,500 ground-mounted, non-tracking photovoltaic solar panels, grid tied in coordination with APS. Kenney Construction Services Inc. expects to complete the project by winter this year.
“This is the second solar project for the Sedona-Oak Creek Unified School District. The first was at Big Park Community School, and the third will be at the district office,” Young said. “If it’s possible, we may have a fourth. We’d like to do some work at the West Sedona pool.”