School renovating buildings, adding solar power to save money

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) - The Batesville School District is undergoing several renovation projects that are expected to conserve enough energy to save the district millions of dollars.

Superintendent Dr. Michael Hester said the school board approved these changes after hearing a presentation from an outside company, Entegrity, at a special called meeting Monday night.

"We have 6,200 light fixtures that are going to be changed out to LED," Hester said. "We have low-flow [water] fixtures that are older. The newer ones are high-efficiency flow. So anything that's old we are going to refit."

He also said they will replace and pressurize doors and windows across the campuses and replace many old HVAC units.

"Utilities have been going up 2.1% a year for the last 10 years so in 10 years from now you're going to be spending 21% more of your budget on utilities than you are now," Hester said. "Well that gets into teacher salaries and what you can do for kids so this allows us to keep that cost down."

To combat that, the school will be adding solar panels to the high school campus that will produce just under 50% of the energy the district uses annually.

"We are going to have solar energy that is bidirectional," Hester explained. "It can come into our buildings to use and spread around our campuses that we have or we can sell it back to the grid at a wholesale value."

Some of those panels will be laid on top of sidewalk canopies and a pavilion area.

"So we have functionality and efficiency all built into this plan," Hester said.

The plan is guaranteed by Entegrity to save $7 million over 20 years.

Since it will take about $5 million to make all of the changes, the district's net savings will be $2 million.

The solar panels are expected to be installed by the Fall 2018 semester and all of the changes are expected to be complete before 2019.

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