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Mascenic School District

Solar energy system to heat water in the works

NEW IPSWICH — The district will be using leftover bond funds to make energy improvements at Highbridge Hill Elementary School, and hopes to continue the trend in applying for another grant for a new biomass heater at Boynton Middle School.

During a School Board meeting on May 20, the board voted unanimously to expend some leftover bond money to put in an evacuated tube system to collect solar energy on the roof of the elementary school that would provide hot water.

The cost of the tubes and their installation — $24,400, based on the estimate of a local company — would come out of funds leftover from a $24 million bond approved in 2009 for the construction of Highbridge Hill and improvements to Mascenic High and Boynton Middle schools .

Maintenance Director Gary Somero told the School Board at its May 20 meeting that he had approached several companies to price the project, and the only one that had responded with an estimate was Froling Energy of Peterborough. Somero recommended that the board award Froling the installation of the project, so the school could move forward.

School Board Chair Jeff Salmonson asked if there was an opportunity to get more estimates. District Finance Director Jennifer Krook replied that the time to use the bond money was running out. The bond expires on June 29. While it’s likely the district would be able to get an extension on the bond while actively working on a project, as is the case with the installation of the solar project, there is a time crunch to get it done.

Somero told the board that the tubes are planned to be installed on the flat portion of the roof of the elementary school over the cafeteria. They will not be visible from the front of the school. That portion of the roof is south-facing and fully exposed, so no trees will have to be removed.

The board voted to approve $24,400 for the installation of the evacuated tubes, as well as a 5 percent contingency, and to award the installation work to Froling Energy.

Somero told the board that the remaining $22,600 left in the bond would be spent on a topcoat of pavement for the service road between Highbridge Hill Elementary School and Mascenic High School.

Somero also told the board about an opportunity to apply for a grant to install a $100,000-plus biomass system at the middle school. Before he applied, however, he asked the board for assurance that it would back a 20 percent match, if the district was awarded the grant.

Systems could range between the $100,000 and $150,000 range, Somero said. Even with the more expensive installations, the school would have recouped its portion of the grant funds within five years, taking energy savings into account. The system should be functioning for at least the next 30 years, he added.

The board gave approval for matching funds of up to $30,000, should the district be awarded a grant for a biomass system.

The School Board will meet next on June 3 at 6 p.m. in the Mascenic Education Center in Greenville.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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