Fitchburg, MA – April 5, 2017 – Fitchburg Public Schools recently partnered with Solect Energy, the Commonwealth’s leading installer of commercial-scale solar energy systems, to install two rooftop solar systems totaling 603 kilowatts (kW) on Fitchburg’s Reingold Elementary School and Memorial Middle School. The installations will provide clean renewable energy to the schools while enabling them to save on energy costs.
Fitchburg Public Schools is dedicated to providing learning experiences which engage students in achieving high academic standards, preparing them for the challenges of living in today’s world. The district’s Reingold Elementary School educates 677 students in pre-kindergarten to grade four. The recent installation continues the school department‘s goal of utilizing clean energy; after replacing its roof in 2011, the elementary school became a viable candidate for solar.
“The best part of working with Solect is that not only did they install the panels, but they have been supportive in our efforts to leverage the installation as a learning opportunity for our students,” said Jessica Stodulski, district STEM support specialist at Fitchburg Public Schools. “Solect has played an active role by sending guest speakers to our school, capturing drone video footage so students can get a glimpse of how the panels are arranged on the roof, and providing access to the monitoring dashboard to allow the installation to be an authentic, integrated part of our STEM program.”
With the array installed, the Reingold Elementary School’s energy costs have been reduced by more than $40,000 per year.
“Making the switch to solar at two of the district’s schools is a big win for not only the schools, but the City of Fitchburg in terms of the environmental benefits,” said Matt Shortsleeve, vice president of development at Solect Energy. “It also creates significant cost savings that can now be applied back to the school’s educational programs, all while supporting the City’s initiatives as a green community.”
The solar arrays at Reingold Elementary and Memorial Middle School were financed and constructed through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Solect, facilitated through the PowerOptions Solar Program. Under the agreement, Solect owns and operates the solar arrays, and sells the power generated back to the school at a reduced, fixed rate for the duration of the 20-year agreement. As a member of PowerOptions since 2004, Fitchburg Public Schools was able to participate in the PowerOptions Solar Program, in lieu of conducting their own RFP. This program offers favorable pricing and beneficial terms for solar PPAs through Solect, and dozens of public entities and non-profits in Massachusetts are taking advantage of this program to reduce their energy expenses.
"At PowerOptions, we support the public entities and nonprofits that are serving our communities in part by making solar energy more accessible with offerings like our Solar Program," said PowerOptions executive vice-president Meg Lusardi. "In addition to cost predictability and savings, the City of Fitchburg implemented its solar project without the need for any upfront costs or ongoing maintenance responsibilities."
In addition, Andre Ravenelle, Fitchburg school superintendent, commented, “This initiative has been a wonderful collaborative effort. The work of my staff and Solect has provided a valuable contemporary energy solution, increased awareness of solar power in our schools and the community and reduced our utility expenses, which allows for funding to be redirected to the important work of educating Fitchburg students.”
The Fitchburg school district is considering solar installations on additional properties as a result of the success of those at the elementary and middle schools.
“We are pleased with the results we have seen since the installation, and it would not have been made possible without the exceptional work done by Solect,” said Robert Jokela, assistant superintendent of finance & operations at Fitchburg Public Schools. “The savings generated by the solar panels will allow the school department to reallocate the funds to education related efforts.”
Following the announcement, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center sponsored Clean Energy Activity Day at Reingold Elementary School on Wednesday, which provides a hands-on experience for students at six public schools across Massachusetts.
"This Solect solar project is the perfect backdrop for today's Clean Energy Activity Day as we partner with Fitchburg Public Schools to provide an engaging learning environment for more than 100 students," said MassCEC CEO Stephen Pike. "We hope this project and these learning activities inspire a new generation of clean energy stewards to take on Massachusetts' climate and energy opportunities."
About Fitchburg Public Schools
The vision of each of the Fitchburg Public Schools is to provide learning experiences that engage all students in achieving high academic standards while developing intellectual rigor, creative interest, and social characteristics that prepare them for the challenges of living successfully and productively as citizens of this new century. Our mission is to provide coordinated curricular and extracurricular experiences that inspire students to develop the academic, intellectual, creative, technological, and social skills necessary to work and to participate in our democratic society. Highly qualified educators who motivate and support students in achieving the high standards of literacy and numeracy as described in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks will staff our schools. Teachers, administrators, and parents will collaborate to insure the effectiveness of learning experiences that are differentiated to meet a variety of student learning styles, needs, and interests. All members of the school community will focus on achieving academic excellence through curricula that promote inquiry and stimulate curiosity and the foundation for lifelong learning. For more information, visit https://sites.google.com/fitchburg.k12.ma.us/fitchburg or follow us on Twitter at @FitchburgPS.
About Solect Energy
Solect is a full-service solar photovoltaic (PV) project developer and installer based in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, delivering smart solar and energy management solutions to help businesses and organizations reduce energy costs. As an industry leader in commercial-scale solar energy, Solect takes a practical approach to the development, installation and on-going support of each system. We partner closely with our customers, providing strong financial insight and solar technology expertise to optimize their investment while creating a positive impact on the environment. Solect currently has installed over 57 MW (megawatts) of commercial PV systems, with a primary focus on commercial, light industrial and institutional properties in New England. For more information, visit http://www.solect.com or follow us on Twitter at @SolectSolar.
Headquartered in Boston, Mass., PowerOptions is the largest energy buying consortium of its kind in New England, serving nearly 500 nonprofit organizations and government entities with combined annual energy sales of approximately $200 million. With a 95 percent member retention rate, a proven supplier selection process and a dedication to personalized customer service, PowerOptions provides programs, services and solutions that educate and bring value to its membership. Established in 1998, any nonprofit or public institution in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut is eligible to participate in this collective purchasing effort. For more information, visit www.poweroptions.org.
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) is dedicated to accelerating the success of clean energy technologies, companies, and projects in the Commonwealth—while creating high-quality jobs and long-term economic growth for the people of Massachusetts. Since its inception in 2009, MassCEC has helped clean energy companies grow, supported municipal clean energy projects, and invested in residential and commercial renewable energy installations creating a robust marketplace for innovative clean technology companies and service providers. Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton chairs MassCEC’s board of directors.