FCSD board hears solar power farm proposal

By DAVID TISDALE,

Representatives of a Birmingham, Alabama, solar power company were on hand for the Forrest County School District’s Board of Directors Sept. 9 meeting to make a brief public pitch for a proposal it claims could save the district approximately $130,000 annually in utility costs with the installment of solar farms at nearly every school in the district.

Enpower CEO Evan Bates told the directors that the company, which he said designs and constructs the facilities for the farms, would not charge the district any up-front costs if its proposal is selected, and the costs would be cheaper, “about 7 cents a kilowatt hour,” while also providing an environmentally cleaner energy alternative and reduced noise from the service it provides.

“You only pay for the power you receive,” Bates said. “And if we can find other ways to save you money, we will do it.” 

As part of the proposal, the company would lease the land and pay property taxes for solar farms and accompanying facilities placed at North Forrest High School, North Forrest Elementary School, South Forrest Attendance Center, Earl Travillion Attendance Center and Dixie Elementary School.

Because of a lack of space, the proposal does not include a solar farm for Rawls Springs Attendance Center.

Mississippi Power Company services would continue providing “backup” power service, or services not delivered through Enpower. Superintendent Brian Freeman said in his discussions with the company, he was assured Enpower would also adjust its charges in the event of a reduction in rates by Mississippi Power.

“We’ve gone over everything in the proposal, and we haven’t found a negative yet,” Freeman said.

Bates said Enpower currently has solar farms at approximately 1,000 schools in California, Arizona and Nevada, one each in Ohio and Illinois, one in development at a school district in Alabama.

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