AUGUSTA — A proposal to help heat Cony High School and Capital Area Technical Center with wood pellets and the sun could save $600,000 over the next nine years, and even more than that in the years beyond that, officials of an alternative energy company say.

The Revolution Energy proposal, presented to the Augusta Board of Education Wednesday, calls for solar hot air wall panels and a wood pellet system to help heat the Cony campus.

The two systems together could provide 90 percent of the high school’s heat, taking the place of some 77,000 gallons of oil a year.

That could save the schools $600,000 over the nine years of the contract with the company, based upon current oil prices and a projection oil costs will go up 2 percent per year over that same time period.

Clay Mitchell, owner of Revolution Energy, said, after the nine-year contract ends the savings would be even greater for the schools if Augusta buys the equipment, and would thus be able to produce its own heat, at no cost other than maintenance and operation costs.

For example, the solar hot air system, which would cover about 3,600 square feet of one wall of Capital Area Technical Center, is projected to save $375,000 over its estimated 25 year lifespan, Mitchell said.

The company has also proposed to install solar hot air panels and a wood pellet boiler at Buker Community Center to provide heat, as well as solar photovoltaic panels at Augusta City Center and Buker Community Center to provide electricity.

Under the proposal, the energy systems would remain owned by Revolution Energy even though they would be installed at the city and school buildings.

The plan for Cony calls for a nine-year agreement with the company, with a promise to buy back all the heat the systems provide at a per kilowatt or British thermal unit price agreed upon in the contract.

“We’ll purchase the fuel and deliver energy,” Mitchell said. “All you’re really buying is the end product, which is the heat. We put in new equipment. We operate it. We produce immediate savings.”

The Board of Education would have to approve the proposals for a wood chip boiler and solar hot air systems at Cony High School. The proposals for city-owned City Center and Buker Community Center would have to be approved by the City Council.

In October, councilors authorized a $52,000 contract with Revolution Energy to study the feasibility of installing the alternative energy systems.

If the city and schools agree to a long-term contract to buy the energy that’s produced, then the $52,000 cost would be wrapped into the energy purchase contract, according to City Manager William Bridgeo.

Board members made no commitment to the project Wednesday, but expressed interest and said they would talk with company officials more.

The estimated savings are based on the current prices of oil and electricity, and projections of price levels over the same time period. But those prices, especially oil, have varied wildly in recent years, making guesses at cost-savings difficult.

Mitchell said the company can install alternative energy systems more cheaply than the city or schools could because, as a business, it can take advantage of tax incentives.

He said the company would be interested in working with local students and staff to bring their alternative energy systems, and how they are financed, into the school curriculum.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]


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