GREEN FOREST, Ark. — The Green Forest Public Schools superintendent said the district has been looking for alternative energy sources for years. And thanks to a recent bill that Arkansas legislators passed, it can move forward.
“Sometimes those deals come along and you think oh this is just too good to be true,” said Green Forest Superintendent Dr. Matt Summers.
The school district found a new Arkansas law will give them easier access to solar energy. The district plans to team up with the energy services company Entegrity to tap into a solar farm to save money and the environment.
“They are the owner of the farm,” Summers said. “We are leasing it from them for six years our rates are locked, so we can set our electric bill almost budget to the penny. And then after that year there’s a minimal increase to the end of the lease in 25 years.”
“We haven’t found any red flags thus far, so we’re moving forward,” he continued.
Entegrity says the city of Green Forest is also looking into going solar, so both could use the farm.
“We factor in all the operations and maintenance for the long-term agreement, and then we charge a lower kilo-watt hour rate to the client,” said Entegrity Energy Partners Regional Director John Coleman.
And Entegrity believes that savings could be substantial for the school district, which currently pays about $150,000 a year in electricity costs.
“We think at a minimum we’re going to save them anywhere from $35,000-40,000, but it’s probably going to be above that,” Coleman said.
And that money can go far in a school district.
“Frees us up to do all kinds of things from salaries, to buses, to books, to more equipment for the cafeteria. We would spread that out all over our budget,” Summers said.
The superintendent also believes it’s a great way to teach their kids.
“Here’s a great way to save money, but also it’s saving the environment. It’s a greener way to go. It’s the best way to do it,” Summers said.
Once the school district knows exactly how much it’ll cost, it can sign a contract with Entegrity within the next 60 days to make it final.
Entegrity representatives said once the deal is final, it would take about six months to build the farm.