KOKOMO - The Taylor School Corporation is again forging a new path for Howard County by adding solar panels to its property.

The Taylor district will be the first in the county to add solar panels, though other districts have discussed adding them. The district expects the panels to cut down on costs and provide green energy to school buildings.

The district approved a $3 million project during its last regular board meeting earlier this month that will not affect tax rates for residents of the district, said Chris Smith, Taylor superintendent. It is working with PSG Energy, a company that specializes in solar energy, and EMCOR Energy Services, a group that specializes in energy infrastructure and building services.

The project will include 3,888 solar panels to be housed at the district’s main campus, which includes the high school and middle school. The panels are expected to last up to 40 years, and the entire solar array is expected to produce over 1.8 million kilowatt-hours per year, covering the majority of the main campus’ energy needs. The district expects the project to be completed in July.

Jami Krynski, CEO of PSG Energy, said the project will take advantage of Indiana’s net metering benefits, which allow individuals or organizations that produce solar energy to sell excess energy back to the grid at retail rates rather than wholesale rates. The school will sell back surplus energy created by the solar panels to Duke Energy, Krynski said.

Though the Indiana legislature passed a bill that would affect net metering, Krynski said they aren’t worried about that bill potentially hurting the school. Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb is expected to sign or veto the law on May 2, but Krynski said even if the bill becomes law it won’t affect organizations that participate in net metering for the next 30 years.

As part of the project, the district will also be replacing all of current bulbs with energy-efficient LED bulbs, including at the elementary school, Smith said.

Taylor is the first district in the county to approve a solar project of this size, and it’s not the first time they’ve been ahead of the curve. The district is currently the only one in the county to have a turf field; both Kokomo and Northwestern have approved projects to update their athletic fields to turf this year.

Smith said the district was eager to approve the project because it will save money for the district in energy costs, which will go back into school’s general fund, but he added that it’s also about the school’s overall vision, which includes finding savings within the budget.

“This project will fit right into that and will help save money in our general fund,” Chris said. “And it’s green energy. There’s not a lot of districts in Indiana that have done this, so we’ll be one of the competing school districts.”

Education Reporter Caele Pemberton can be reached at 765-454-8587, by email at caele.pemberton@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @CaelePemberton

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