Mayfield shines light on solar power

MAYFIELD – The Mayfield Central School District Board of Education and Superintendent Paul Williamsen are considering switching to solar energy for the school district.

School officials sat through another presentation on the energy source Tuesday. Steven Erby, of Monolith Solar Associates in Rensselaer, talked with officials about the costs and efficiency of solar energy.

The Latham-based New York Light Energy conducted a presentation on solar energy for the board in December.

“There’s a misconception that solar [power] doesn’t work,” Erby said. “People think there isn’t enough sunlight. We want to wake people up.”

Erby told the board members and the handful of residents in attendance that the school district’s electricity costs – using the solar panels – would be 25 percent lower compared to what it pays National Grid. Those costs would stay that low through the 20-year contract, he said.

A district official said in the 2011-12 school year, Mayfield owed $174,000 in electricity and delivery costs.

The solar panels would provide all of the district’s electricity. The work of the architects, and having the solar panels installed, would be free for the school district, he said.

Erby said the company also would install a smaller solar panel on the ground to give the students a chance to look at the panels up close and get a better understanding of the technology.

Board President Ernest Clapper answered a resident’s question about the 20-year contract possibly being too long. He told the resident that no decisions have been made. Clapper said the district officials are going to continue to explore options in solar energy.

Williamsen agreed with Clapper that school officials are in the early stages of looking into using solar energy.

“If we can benefit even more in the later stage of this, that would be wonderful, but let’s take a look at [solar energy] and see what it means to the district,” he said.