Triad Board Debates Solar Energy Project

By Steve Rensberry, Editor

Members of the Triad Board of Education spent considerable time at their July 22 board meeting discussing a solar energy proposal presented by the company CTS, which has been putting together a plan to outfit C.A. Henning, Silver Creek and St. Jacob elementary school with a solar panel system designed to offset their overall energy costs.

The array of solar panels, if they materialize, would generate electricity that would put back into the grid, rather than supplying electricity directly to the school. They would, however, also be useful for teachers, with the ability of staff to connect with the panels to see exactly how much electricity they are generating, and other details.

The three school were approved for the solar program through a type of lottery system, but the costs could still be considerable. One suggestion was to put together a formal request for proposals (RFP) to get the best price, or alternative ideas, though CTS has already provided a considerable amount of specifics and technical details about how it could work, with no fee attached.

CTS’s proposal cited a total initial cost of about $2.3 million, which is realized through energy savings by the year 2012, with the district making money off the system through 2020.

A motion was made to issue a request for proposals for an energy performance contract, to include the three schools, with all members voting to approve.

Considerable time was spent discussing a proposal from Triad Athletic Director Kenny Deatherage to replace the high school’s main athletic field grass with astroturf, along with the infield area of the varsity football field, with the estimated $1.3 million price tag being the main stumbling block.

A majority of board members voiced support for moving forward, giving Deatherage the green light to confirm any corporate sponsorships or similar funding sources, while agreeing that further discussion about costs and financing would need to take place.

It was reported that roof work at Triad Middle School has begun, with the roof on schedule to be completed before the start of school in August. New cafeteria tables also have been installed at the school.

The transportation department has also been busy installing new cameras in all of the district’s buses, with the work expected to be completed in another couple of weeks. Unlike the current single camera, the new system uses three cameras that provide considerably more coverage.

The district has submitted the Illinois EPA – Driving a Cleaner Illinois – Volkswagen request for funding related to the purchase of three electric school buses. The award announcement is expected on Aug. 16.

Online registration in the district has been going well, administrators said. Triad Superintendent Leigh Lewis noted in her report that a New Teacher Orientation workshop will welcome 25 new teachers to the district.

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