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Eagle Valley Middle School solar project gains approval

Teri Vance
tvance@nevadaappeal.com

A 60,000-square-foot array of solar panels will be constructed at Eagle Valley Middle School. Exactly where still remains to be determined.

After receiving approval from the Carson City Planning Commission to build at two other schools earlier this month, the school district was tasked with investigating alternative sites at Eagle Valley Middle School when neighbors spoke out against the original plan.

They worried the 8-foot-tall structures at the southwest corner would obstruct their view and that of those using the trails in that area.

School officials returned before planning commissioners Wednesday with four possible locations on the middle school campus.

Although some of the locations were more hidden from neighbors’ view, Mark Korinek, operations director for the Carson City School District, said the original spot remained most ideal.

He said other locations could hinder future development at the school.

Commissioners decided with a 4-2 vote that the district could choose between the original site and a secondary location in the center of the campus.

Commissioners Craig Mullet and Jim Shirk voted against the motion, preferring the centrally located spot.

“I understand your concern for using up some of your area, but it’s still my preference,” Mullet said. “I can’t vote for (the southwest corner), personally.”

The structures are part of a districtwide project to construct 195,000 square feet of solar panels at five schools. The nearly

$11 million installation cost will be reduced to $975,000 after rebates from the power company, said Tony Turley, finance director for the Carson City School District.

He said a conservative estimate is that the school district would save $400,000 in energy costs annually.

To claim the rebate, the systems must be installed by July 20.

Turley said the savings will help out the district, especially with up to 10 percent cuts expected out of the next legislative session.

As an example, he said $400,000 annually would pay for seven teachers, two buses, fuel for the entire bus fleet for a year or a round of new textbooks.

“It helps alleviate some of those cuts,” he said. “These savings keep teachers in the classroom. They keep supplies on the desk.”

There also are plans for the photovoltaic structures at Carson High School and Fritsch Elementary School, however a special-use permit is not required for those.

The 100,000 square feet of structures will be installed in a five-acre lot zoned for agriculture use at the east end of the high school property behind the soccer fields. Fritsch’s solar panels will replace the existing shade structure at the bus drop-off in front of the school.