BARCelectric helps Bath schools go solar- Part 2

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Thanks to the foresight of the Bath County School Board, BARC electric, and the sun, a major reduction in energy costs for the school is on the horizon. In this second of a pair of news pieces, Mike Keyser CEO of BARC electric explains for listeners how this small, rural utility provider is bringing state of the art technology to our county.

“We worked with the USDA Rural Utility Service, which is the government agency BARCelectric borrows money from to do all of our system improvements across our electric system. It’s where we’re borrowing money for the Broadband project that we’re doing. We were able to work with them through a special program that they opened up late last year called the Rural Energy Savings Program, and it’s actually our subsidiary that is borrowing the money from the USDA, and Reliable Energy then turns around under this program and relends that money to an end user who is developing either a renewable energy project, or energy efficiency program. That’s what it’s designed for.”

Once the financing, and design and construction plans were in place, we wondered if there might be even more direct benefits for students learning in facilities energized by solar. What might be one of the first things students could get from watching the project going in and in place?

“Just the awareness that there’s renewable energy right here in Bath County, and what it does is going to be great. I think there is going to be a great opportunity as we come on site periodically to do maintenance and to inspect it for the STEM classes to tag along and watch us do this and learn how a solar array produces and is maintained. There’s also going to be a very slick monitoring tool that comes along with this, a web-based monitoring program, that will aggregate all of the output from all of the arrays into one place, and students will be able to look at real time output; they’ll be able to look at historical output, look at how weather patterns affect the solar arrays, and learn a lot about solar energy production as a part of their curriculum.”

The new weather stations in the schools are already helping track those patterns, but now students will learn more about peak usage, and other renewable energy concepts.   I started out trying to understand the amount of energy generated in terms of daily usage, but Mr. Keyser assured me it is easier to grasp on a much larger scale, as when the arrays have gathered the energy for weeks and months before coming to an average figure.

Mike Keyser:

“If you look at the school on an annual basis, three-hundred-sixty-five-days, they consume on average a certain amount of megawatt hours of energy, or kilowatt hours if you multiply it by a thousand. This thing is going to produce about fifty percent of what the school consumes on an annual basis. In any moment in time it might be overproducing what they’re consuming, especially like midday maybe, but at night obviously it’s not producing anything, and so they are consuming off the grid, and the solar project’s not producing anything. Over time it ends up being fifty percent on an annual basis roughly, And that’s how that works.”

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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