CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. -- The Cambridge Central School District board has taken another step toward installing solar panels at the school and the building which houses their central office.

According to board chairman Paul Baker-Porazinski, the board has taken a necessary legal step by investigating any potential environmental impacts of the installation. The investigation came back negative, and the project is now free to move forward.

"We were hoping to already have them on," said Baker-Porazinski.

The board had initially approved the plan, a partnership between the school and Monolith Solar Associates, of Rensselaer, N.Y., in April. He said the delay stemmed from legislation in the New York legislature focusing on raising the kilowatt limit on commercial solar projects from 50kw to 200kw. That legislation passed in July, removing another roadblock for the project. Hopefully, said Baker-Porazinski, installation can begin in early spring.

School will purchase power

Under the agreement, Monolith will pay for, install, and maintain the solar panels. The school will then purchase power produced from the panels from Monolith at 25 percent below the current market rate. "It essentially costs us nothing," said Baker-Porazinski. "We basically just provide the roof space."

There will also be a curriculum element to the project, as Monolith will install a kiosk in the school, and provide software that will allow students to monitor the output of the panels from the SMART Boards in their classrooms, said Baker-Porazinski.


Advertisement

Maple Street School in Manchester runs a similar project, which Development Officer Kate Bryan describes as very successful. The computer kiosk with which the school monitors the output from their 10 units was a donation from the class of 2013.

According to Baker-Porazinski, the district's Energy, Conservation, and Sustainability Committee, of which he is a member, has been working on this project for a long time. They are also in the early stages of exploring the option of using a biomass gasification plant for heating the buildings. Science teacher and technology coordinator Steve Butz, who is also on the committee, has said that the school's long-term goal is to produce both heat and electricity through sustainable means.

In April, Monolith's director of field operations, Tyler Justin, announced that for every residential purchase made within the Cambridge Central School district, Monolith would donate $250 to the school's STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) department. Justin described the program as investing in tomorrow's workforce.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB