A proposed solar-energy project in Decorah could be the largest in Iowa.

At Monday's meeting of the Decorah School Board, the Board had a preliminary discussion about the installation of solar panels on Carrie Lee Elementary, Decorah Middle School and Decorah High School.

Russell Novak and John Nielsen of Perry Novak Electric of Decorah visited with the Board regarding possibilities for how the District could benefit from such an installation.

Novak explained because the District is a tax-exempt organization, it would have to work with a tax-paying entity that could purchase the equipment, receive tax-rebates and incentives and then lease the equipment back to the District.

Novak said there are two banks in town which would be eligible for the incentives, based on their corporate structures. These include Northeast Security Bank and Farmers and Merchants Savings Bank.

Novak has contacted Northeast Security Bank, and representatives were to have discussed the idea at their Board meeting on Wednesday.



How it works

Novak said the proposed scenario would be a lease agreement between the purchasing agent and the District.

"It would be just another form of financing," said Novak.

Novak gave the Board several estimates for different sizes of projects.

He said if the District was willing to pay $9,500 per month to lease the equipment, about 40 percent of its energy would be taken care of.

Following the meeting, District Business Manager Cathy Dietzenbach said the District currently pays $290,000 per year to power the District, or about $25,000 per month.

"This is a budget we put together to take advantage of maximum incentives," said Novak.

"We can be as large or as small as you want to be."

Novak said the panels are warrantied for 25 years. Payback for the lender would be around 12 A proposed solar-energy project in Decorah could be the largest in Iowa.

At Monday's meeting of the Decorah School Board, the Board had a preliminary discussion about the installation of solar panels on Carrie Lee Elementary, Decorah Middle School and Decorah High School.

Russell Novak and John Nielsen of Perry Novak Electric of Decorah visited with the Board regarding possibilities for how the District could benefit from such an installation.

Novak explained because the District is a tax-exempt organization, it would have to work with a tax-paying entity that could purchase the equipment, receive tax-rebates and incentives and then lease the equipment back to the District.

Novak said there are two banks in town which would be eligible for the incentives, based on their corporate structures. These include Northeast Security Bank and Farmers and Merchants Savings Bank.

Novak has contacted Northeast Security Bank, and representatives were to have discussed the idea at their Board meeting on Wednesday.



How it works

Novak said the proposed scenario would be a lease agreement between the purchasing agent and the District.

"It would be just another form of financing," said Novak.

Novak gave the Board several estimates for different sizes of projects.

He said if the District was willing to pay $9,500 per month to lease the equipment, about 40 percent of its energy would be taken care of.

Following the meeting, District Business Manager Cathy Dietzenbach said the District currently pays $290,000 per year to power the District, or about $25,000 per month.

"This is a budget we put together to take advantage of maximum incentives," said Novak.

"We can be as large or as small as you want to be."

Novak said the panels are warrantied for 25 years. Payback for the lender would be around 12 A proposed solar-energy project in Decorah could be the largest in Iowa.

At Monday's meeting of the Decorah School Board, the Board had a preliminary discussion about the installation of solar panels on Carrie Lee Elementary, Decorah Middle School and Decorah High School.

Russell Novak and John Nielsen of Perry Novak Electric of Decorah visited with the Board regarding possibilities for how the District could benefit from such an installation.

Novak explained because the District is a tax-exempt organization, it would have to work with a tax-paying entity that could purchase the equipment, receive tax-rebates and incentives and then lease the equipment back to the District.

Novak said there are two banks in town which would be eligible for the incentives, based on their corporate structures. These include Northeast Security Bank and Farmers and Merchants Savings Bank.

Novak has contacted Northeast Security Bank, and representatives were to have discussed the idea at their Board meeting on Wednesday.



How it works

Novak said the proposed scenario would be a lease agreement between the purchasing agent and the District.

"It would be just another form of financing," said Novak.

Novak gave the Board several estimates for different sizes of projects.

He said if the District was willing to pay $9,500 per month to lease the equipment, about 40 percent of its energy would be taken care of.

Following the meeting, District Business Manager Cathy Dietzenbach said the District currently pays $290,000 per year to power the District, or about $25,000 per month.

"This is a budget we put together to take advantage of maximum incentives," said Novak.

"We can be as large or as small as you want to be."

Novak said the panels are warrantied for 25 years. Payback for the lender would be around 12 years, and the panels would have another 12 or 13 years of warrantied life beyond that.

"That's really a good thing," said Novak.



Concerns

Board member Brian Petersburg expressed concerns about the weight of the panels.

"As a Board, we're pretty darn gun shy about putting anything on top of our roofs," said Petersburg.

"Roofs have been the bane of our existence for a while. We would not want to do anything to compromise them," added Board President Melanie Tietz.

"I wish you had the ground space, but just like anything else in Decorah, real estate is at a premium," said Novak.

Novak said the system could use a ballasted system, where weights would be used to balance solar panels. The roof would not be penetrated to fasten the panels.

He said the panels, which are made in the U.S., are designed to withstand softball-sized hail at 90 mph.

"The quality and craftsmanship is pretty impressive," added Nielsen.



The benefits

Novak noted if the solar panels last 35 years, the carbon savings would be staggering.

"You could save 769 tons of carbon a year, or 26,000 tons over 35 years. That's the equivalent of taking 93 cars off the road or saving 2,770,000 gallons of gas. It would be enough energy to power 129 houses per year or 4,500 houses over 35," said Novak.

"It would show the community you are trying to be supportive of being energy conscious."

Novak said if the District maximized its roof space, the solar array would be three times the largest solar array in Iowa.



What's next?

Superintendent Mike Haluska said he would put a call into the District's attorney, Danielle Hainfield, to discuss how the lease situation could work.

Tietz told Novak while the Board is open to the idea of the lease, it needs more information before making any decision.