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Bedford County schools to enter contract with solar firm in utilities cost-saving endeavor

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The Bedford County School Board unanimously moved Thursday to approve entering into a contract with a solar company to move forward in an energy cost-saving plan discussed a few months ago.

During the school board’s April meeting, part of the division’s capital improvement plan discussion focused on the possibility of using some of the land at Goodview and Montvale elementary schools to set up solar panels. Using solar energy would help offset some utilities expenses, and Goodview and Montvale elementary schools have the most land available for this use, the division’s facilities committee decided.

At the school board’s April meeting, the board gave BCPS staff consensus to request proposals from solar firms. The RFP received six proposals by the deadline, according to BCPS documents.

After a committee review of each solar proposal, Secure Futures Solar was chosen as the preferred vendor from two finalists interviewed July 20.

An estimated $50,000 in savings per year could result from the project, according to BCPS documentation.

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Bedford County schools are not the only ones in Virginia opting for solar.

The division decided to contract with Secure Futures Solar partly because of positive references from other Virginia school districts contracted with the company, including Waynesboro City schools, Augusta County, Albemarle County and Orange County.

Secure Futures Solar included some educational benefits in the proposal, including a data dashboard where teachers and students could analyze and track electrical use, plus science and technology curriculums and trainings to bolster student education in these STEM areas. These educational resources also could support the formation of student STEM clubs and projects should teachers or schools opt for this extra component, according to BCPS documentation.

Secure Futures Solar would agree to maintain the equipment and land it occupies “in a safe and attractive manner,” according to BCPS documentation of the firm’s proposal.

The projected completion date currently is summer 2023.

— Shannon Kelly

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