The Guy-Perkins School District is the first public Arkansas school district to begin using solar power campus wide.
The recently-installed system went live Dec. 31 and is expected to save the district around $27,000 each year.
The solar garden was built by Scenic Hill Solar of Little Rock, making the district the state’s first school system to fully power its electricity through solar energy. The solar garden is located on the eastern side of the school’s campus and sits next to the city park.
Administrators moved to convert the school’s power system to a net-meter system when it began taking steps to switch to solar power. By converting to a net-meter system, the school can source power via solar panel units and Petit Jean Electric Cooperative power. The net-meter system can sync with the current Petit Jean grid so that the school would not be without power should the panels be damaged.
The 585-kilowatt photovoltaic system is set up to source solar energy to power all buildings on the district’s campus.
Guy-Perkins Superintendent Joe Fisher said he was proud of the district’s initiative to go green.
Solar Hill representatives will maintain the solar garden after school officials entered a 30-year agreement with the solar company last year.
Scenic Hill CEO Bill Halter previously told the Log Cabin that the 1,400-solar-module project is expected to save the district $500,000 over the next 30 years.
The school plans to use the money it saves through switching to solar power for improvements and salaries.
Because of the way the net-meter system is set up, the district can still use Petit Jean electricity when needed.
“The district is being credited on its Petit Jean Electric bill for the power generated by the solar field and will pay Scenic Hill Solar at a reduced rate for each kilowatt hour produced,” Fisher said. “This provides the district approximately a 30 percent savings to its overall electricity costs, which will go back into the district budget for salaries and facility needs.”
The district spent $90,000 on electricity costs during the 2018-19 academic year. The district expects to see that number drop now that the solar power system has gone live.
To celebrate the district’s initiative, Scenic Hill Solar representatives and Guy-Perkins administrators welcome the public to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the solar field at 10 a.m. Jan. 31.
Governor’s Office representatives along with local Congressmen and Arkansas Department of Elementary and Secondary Education officials will be onsite during the ribbon-cutting ceremony “to help commemorate this landmark event,” Fisher said.
In case it rains the day of the event, the ceremony will be moved to the school’s cafeteria at 492 Highway 25 in Guy.