Hughesville goes green with East Lycoming School District
HUGHESVILLE – The public was invited to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the East Lycoming School District last Tuesday evening while partnering with PPL for a new solar energy project that is expected to break even as an investment in a few short years.
The 600-kilowatt solar energy will provide power to 50 percent of Hughesville High School.
“This is one of the most progressive school districts in the state in terms of reducing its carbon footprint,” said Mike Kroboth, president of PPL Renewable Energy, before he took a shovel along with school officials and guests to lay the foundation for a 600 kilowatt solar field.
The cost for the $3.4 million project is offset by solar energy grants and is part of an ongoing partnership between the school district and PPL to improve the energy efficiency of the district’s facilities. The solar facility will have a generating capacity of 700,000 kilowatt-hours per year according to PPL Renewable Energy.
The project will be bought by the district under a long-term agreement with PPL EnergyPlus, which also is marketing renewable energy credits.
The approximate 3,000 panels will be on 3 acres and should be operational by June, Kroboth said.
They can produce 709,000 kilowatt hours per year, or enough energy to power 60 homes.
It should help provide half the energy for the high school and 34 percent of the total campus energy use, including Ashkar Elementary School.
The investment is a partnership with McClure Energy and PPL Renewable Energy and Millenium Design Builders.
District officials say they are targeting changes to provide high return in energy savings.
So far they have replaced lighting in school buildings, upgraded system controls, retrofitted existing heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and built a biomass heating system to be fueled first by wood chips and then by hybrid willow, a wood crop grown nearby in district-owned farmland.
Business manager, David Maciejewski and District Superintendent Dr. Susan L. Bigger both agree that the project is an example of showing Lycoming County how “Spartan Green” is more than just a color.
The school board held a meeting after the groundbreaking ceremony.