Lacey School’s Solar Panel Project Targeted By State Comptroller
Lacey Township School District’s solar panels are the target of scrutiny from the state comptroller’s office.
In an alert issued by the comptroller, it claimed the panel installation for six schools was estimated too high compared to the resulting bid. Noting the $16 million dollar estimates far exceeded the $9.9 million bids that eventually occurred.
However the district maintains the economic recession caused the bids to drop between Spring 2008 when the estimates were originally done and Spring 2009 when the bids were placed, and were “impossible to predict” according to a statement.
“Some of that was because construction financing had dried up and the price of solar panels had dropped,” said Lacey Township Board of Education member Jack Martenak.
Martenak noted ultimately the project is saving taxpayers money, since the solar panels account for a $400,000 in savings each year.
Additionally, while the school district did have to bond more because of the initial estimate, state laws allows them to use the excess towards debt relief (they are not allowed to put towards the initial bond).
Martenak said they are putting it to pay off higher interest bonds from older projects.
“Bonds that the Township took out to build the middle school in the 1990’s and to fund the expansion of the high school and three of the elementary schools in the 2000’s…When we bonded the interest rates were about %3.8 I believe, and the interest rates from the previous project were in the five percent range.”