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12-Jun-2017BARC & Bath County Public Schools Partner to Build the Largest School Solar Array in Virginia

BARC Electric Cooperative (BARC) is pleased to announce a groundbreaking partnership with Bath County Public Schools (BCPS) that will result in the largest public school solar array in Virginia. At a combined installed capacity of 1.11 MW (3,314 panels) spread across all three schools in Bath County, Virginia, it will be the largest school solar project in the Commonwealth, in both total capacity and as a percentage of the school system’s total consumption. When completed later this fall, the project will provide a whopping 56% of BCPS annual energy needs. 

“Bath County school district is very excited to be a part of this innovative project. In addition to the financial benefits this project brings, having solar installed at all three schools presents a truly unique educational opportunity for children of all grade levels to learn about installing and maintaining solar panels, as well as studying solar energy production. We are thankful to BARC for developing this program for our benefit,” said Sue Hirsh, Division Superintendent for BCPS. 

BARC is working with Affordable Energy Concepts (AEC) of Madison Heights, VA to construct the project. BARC previously worked with AEC in 2016 to construct the first and only community solar project in the Commonwealth. Engineering is underway, and construction is scheduled to begin this summer. 

“With no out-of-pocket installation costs, and 56% of the school district’s energy needs provided for at 20-year fixed rates, this project will protect both the school district, and ultimately the taxpayers of Bath County, from future rate increases,” commented Mike Keyser, Chief Executive Officer of BARC. “And in 20 years, BCPS will enjoy virtually free solar energy.” 

AEC President David Wall commented, “We are excited to be working with BARC again on another groundbreaking solar project in Virginia. It is very important to me that the people of Bath County truly benefit from an economically-sound and well-designed project. In addition to the savings in energy costs, we have gone the extra mile to protect BCPS with solar panel warranty insurance as well.” 

The project will also include a robust energy and weather monitoring system that will enable teachers and students at all three schools to keep track of solar production, energy savings, and compare against weather patterns. 

“It’s no coincidence that the arrangement sounds a lot like community solar. We wrote the playbook for community solar in Virginia, and we took a page out for this project. A year ago I meant it when I said that community solar was just the beginning. We are steadfastly focused on serving our community in new and innovative ways that improves the quality of life,” Keyser concluded.