EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP - The school district "flipped the switch" on its first solar-energy project Friday. School officials and students gathered at Fernwood Avenue Middle School to celebrate the renovation of the roof, which was repaired and outfitted with more than 100 solar panels.
Superintendent Scott McCartney said the panels are estimated to produce about 144,000 kilowatt hours of energy per year, which would save the school about $17,000 in utility costs and bring in $70,000 from renewable energy certificates, which others pay for to offset pollution.
The roofing was done by D.A. Nolt Inc., of Berlin, Cmaden County. The solar panel installation was done by Akeena Solar of Los Gatos, Calif.
Funding for the work was part of a $27.9 million bonding voters approved last year for 36 school improvements. About half of the money is being used for the roof renovations and solar-panel installation in six schools. The solar-panel arrays are expected to help the district save about $1.2 million in utility costs and provide money from renewable energy certificates that can be used in future budgets, McCartney said.
The solar panel installation will be linked to a computer for students to see how it functions and watch energy being made in real time, McCartney said. The solar panels at Alder Avenue Middle School should be done next month, and work at E.H. Slaybaugh and C.J. Davenport primary schools should be done in the summer. Those installations are being handled by Ray Angelini Inc., of Sewell, Gloucester County. Bids for the other schools will be sought next month, McCartney said.