A high school in Greene County is going green with a new solar farm it says will save the school district more than $1 million over the next 12 years. The Metropolitan School District of Shakamak in Jasonville says it plans to use what will be saved in energy costs at Shakamak Jr./Sr. High School to spend on education needs, which could wind up supporting a new energy curriculum for students. Superintendent Jeff Gambill says the project has been two years in the making.
Gambill discussed the project in a recent interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
“We need something that would bolster our operation funds, and so we toyed around with the idea [of solar] and decided to explore it,” said Gambill. “We approached Johnson Melloh with the idea. We sold it to the community…and that’s how we got it started.”
Gambill says there wasn’t much pushback from the community or the school board, adding the guaranteed savings was a major selling factor.
“I know that in the last 20 years, some schools have gone to solar arrays and there’s been issues with funding, but as we’ve gone forward, the process has gotten better,” he said. “The solar arrays and solar fields are cheaper to install now, and I think people are realizing the savings.”
The school district is guaranteed to receive over $70,000 in savings and Gambill says that number will go up incrementally. He says the savings are guaranteed through an agreement with Indianapolis-based Veregy, which installed the solar array, to make up the difference if the target savings are not reached.
Gambill says the savings will initially go into the district’s operations fund, which will help keep some of the district’s dollars in its education fund.
He says the project comes with an education component.
“Part of the agreement with Veregy is that they provide us with curriculum for solar energy, and that’s vocational classes that we can add in. The students will actually have the solar field in our backyards that they can look at, work with, and there will be people here from Veregy who will maintain the field. And so, it’s something that we can add to our curriculum as learning about green energy.”