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Solar power grant accepted by Picayune School District

Byron Hill, of Mississippi Power, and Chris Landry, Vice President of Landry and Associates of Hattiesburg, discussed a grant opportunty with the Picayune School Board of Trustees during the board’s Wednesday meeting that would implement solar power at the district.. The grant, from Gulf Coast Community Foundation (GCFF) , based in Gulfport, MS, is for $250,000, and the funding is the result of a settlement between Mississippi Power and the Sierra Club.

Hill told the board that the intent of the grant “is to lower the electric bill at the school.”

Landry explained that the grant is provided by Mississippi Power to be applied on buildings owned by school districts that are served by Mississippi Power. Landry said his role is to design the solar panel system and then get it approved by the solar foundation and GCCF.

Landry said the two options have previously identified for the cafeteria on the junior high campus at Picayune. Both options would be connected to the cafeteria which usages electric power 24 by 7 for 7 days per week, Landry explained. One option would be a solar capony for covered parking at the cafeteria and the other option is a covered walkway from the vo-tech area to the cafeteria (approximately 6 feet wide and 200 feet long). Hill said the panels would be tilted when put in place and they must face a southern direction.

Landry said the school district would only be obligated to pay $3,333.00 for its portion to have the grant executed. He said once his design is completed and approved, bids would be let for the project delivery.

Landry said the school district would see, based on estimates and prior projects, approximately a $1,200.00 per month savings on its power bill. School District Finance Director Lisa Persick stated the district’s current power bill is approximately $40,000.00 per month.

Landry said each solar panel produces approximately 400 watts and the life expectancy of the panels is over 30 years. He added that the only requirement from the school is to report on the performance of the panels for the first two years. After that time, the district, if they so desire, can unplug the panels and use them as a nice shaded area. Landry said there is a link to a website to allow teachers to use as a monitoring type learning experience for students. He also said the project requires a weather station which allows teachers to study the impact of the weather on how much power is generated by the solar panels.

Hill explained that the panels are not the main source of power, just an additional source for the cafeteria to use along with their existing electrical power.

After further discussion, the board approved a motion to accept the grant and allow Landry to proceed with the project pending approval by the GCCF.



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