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$4 million solar cells plan tabled by Panther Valley

Published September 26. 2011 05:03PM

The sun set Thursday on a $4 million plan to install solar cells at the Panther Valley High School campus. But the proposal may rise again: All seven school directors attending the public meeting voted to table the matter "indefinitely."

The board vetoed a proposal to approve payment of $5,000 to Reading Electric Renewables, LLC, for the completion of the Commonwealth Financing Authority's Solar Energy Program grant application, contingent upon the board's review of the application before submission.

Board members Tony Pondish, David Hiles, Donna Trimmel, Anthony DeMarco, Bill Hunsicker, Irene Genther and Roy Angst all opposed the measure. School Director Koreen Nalesnik was absent.

Earlier, Ronald Reis, vice-president of the Panther Valley Soccer Association, asked the board to not install any solar panels on playing fields. Flat fields are at a premium, he said. Reis suggested putting panels either on hilly areas or roofs.

The board's vote made moot the following agenda item, which called for consideration of Solar Project Option 1 (using the entirety of the fields) or Solar Project Option 2 (partial use of the fields and roof installation).

The board in April 2010 approved a contract with Reading Electric to pursue competitive grants for solar energy funding. At the time, the state was offering $80 million in grants to nonprofit organizations to promote solar energy. PPL also offered a subsidy.

The district was hoping to get $1 million from the state and an additional $500,000 from PPL. They would still have needed to finance about $2.5 million of the estimated $4 million cost of the project. Business Manager Kenneth Marx Jr. said the district stood to save about $4,841,080 over the next 30 years if they pursued the project.

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