Campbell County uses solar energy to fund education

3:23 PM, Jun 23, 2013   |    comments
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(WBIR - Campbell County) Finding funding for education is not easy for many school districts, but Campbell County has come up with an interesting way to make some cash.

Robbie Thomas said, "Anybody in the school systems knows they will take any money they can get."

All 12 of Campbell County schools now have 50-kilowatt solar system installed on the roof of the buildings.

The solar panel absorb the sunlight and converts it into direct current (DC). Most places cannot use DC, so the DC energy created by the solar panel is then sent to an inverter which converts the DC into usable alternating current (AC).

Efficient Energy of Tennessee installed the solar panels onto the Campbell County schools. Robbie Thomas, president of the company, said the best part about the schools using solar energy is taxpayers do not have to pay for it.

"The county was able to issue a bond to put the systems in and the revenue generated from the systems is enough to pay for the bond, to pay for annual maintenance that's required on the systems, and then leave some money left over for each school and at the end of the bond once it matures they will really have a good revenue stream for the schools," Thomas said.

Campbell County approved a 15-year bond to pay for the system. The school district said Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) signed a contract with the county to purchase the electricity generated from the 12 sites for 20 years, guaranteeing a revenue stream for the county.

Campbell County Schools explained in a press release: "During the first 15 years, the annual revenue generated from the sale of solar energy will produce an average annual surplus of $1,000-$1,200 per installation for Campbell County's coffers, after paying all bond principal and interest and any maintenance costs. When the 15-year bond has been retired each installation will generate approximately $13,000-$15,000 per year for Campbell County for years 16-20 of the power purchase agreement. Additionally, the system design life is 30 - 35 years; therefore, the county will benefit from cost savings long after the TVA contract expires, should TVA choose not to renew it."

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