Clean energy may soon come to Campbell County.
Monday night, members of the budget and finance committee discussed plans to harness solar energy at 18 buildings in Campbell County. The energy could be sold back to the Tennessee Valley Authority.
“We now have the ability to do solar panel projects,” Campbell County Finance Director Jeff Marlow said.
The committee discussed resolution 1-3. In December, the Campbell County Board of Education approved the issuance of $1.3 million in bonds to finance installing solar panels at nine school sites. The energy gathered by the solar panels will be sold to TVA at the current TVA rate of 11.6 cents per KW, Marlow said. TVA will also reimburse the school system 12 cents per KW in rebate, Marlow said.
“We’re not using electricity, we’re selling it back to TVA,” Marlow said.
The nine school sites are part of the first phase of the project, Marlow said.
The next phase involves installing solar panels at three additional school sites and six county buildings. The second phase will cost an additional $1 million.
The energy harvested at these buildings will also be sold at the current TVA rate of 11.36 cents per KW, but TVA will reimburse the county and the school system 9 cents per KW on rebate, Marlow said
“What if we get a big hail storm come through here?” committee member Bobby White asked.
There is a warranty for the first year, and the panels will be insured, Marlow said.
The debt service for the bond issuance is 15 years, according to resolution 1-3.
Committee member Bob Walden expressed concerns about the length of time it will take to debt service the solar panels.
“What’s the technology going to be like 12 years from now?” Walden asked.
As the technology becomes more certain, TVA incentives will be less generous, Marlow said.
“You’re never going to be in a position to cash flow it instantly,” Marlow said.
Walden mentioned some of the buildings the panels will be mounted atop won’t last as long as it will take to debt service the solar panels. He voiced concerns about what would happen to the solar panels in that situation.
“The units are moveable,” Marlow said.
The budget and finance committee approved resolution 1-3, along with 13 other resolutions. Eleven voted yes, and Walden voted no. The budget and finance committee also approved bond resolutions, not to exceed $2.3 million, to finance the installation of solar panels at the 18 sites. Eleven committee members votes yes. Walden voted no. Three members were absent.
The budget and finance committee approved receiving rebate money from the Tennessee Clean Energy Grant Program. Twelve committee members voted yes. Three were absent.
Marlow suggested having people from the Clean Tennessee Energy Grant Program give a presentation before the next budget and finance committee meeting.
The county applied for a $250,000 grant from the Clean Tennessee Energy Program to help finance the project.
“We have time to see if it’s something you want to do on your six non-school sites,” Marlow said.