BARCelectric to develop Solar Project for Bath Schools

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Earlier this month the Bath County School Board approved the agreement to work with BARCelectric on a large solar project that will involve all three schools.

Mike Keyser, CEO of BARC electric talked with Allegheny Mountain Radio about developing the whole plan.

Mr. Keyser described, just as he had to the school board, how the first goal of the solar project is to supply a substantial amount of all three school’s energy needs through solar.

“We don’t want you to pay any premium today, or as little premium as possible to current electric rates, ad we want to be able to fix that portion of your power for a substantial period of time, in this case twenty years. That was the philosophy, kind of the parameters that we wanted to put together. And so, we went to work. How do we make this happen? How do we put that structure together? And what we came up with is this three-part program. It’s a turn-key program for the school district, but it accomplishes what we’re trying to accomplish”.

As the brainstorming continued the company had to look at all the elements of the finances as well as the design and the building. And, as it turns out, the operations and maintenance of the solar project too.

Mike Keyser continued.

“Part one is: we are going to loan the school district the money to be able to purchase the solar array, and it’s actually multiple solar arrays across all three properties, all three schools, that’ll be about a megawatt of solar in total. So it’s a substantial investment, it’s you know, a lot amount of money to buy this up front, and so we’re going to loan the money to the school district at a very low interest rate, three percent per year to purchase the solar array. We’re also going to be the company that builds and installs the solar array for the, so that they have a one-stop shop.   You know, we are the energy experts in Bath County; it would be logical that we would be able to install this for them. We also did it with the community solar project. And then the last piece is: we are going to be the person that operates and maintains it for the school district, so they don’t have that responsibility. It’s essentially what Community Solar is, that we’ve you know, fully subscribed out. In this case we are doing it for one large customer on their premises.”

Arrays will be installed on the ground behind Valley Elementary School, and on part of the roofs at Millboro Elementary and Bath County High Schools. It will be one of the top two largest solar projects of its kind in the state, and so far the only one to benefit a whole school system. Barc knew how find to the financing for such an undertaking too. Again, Mr. Keyser,


“We are lending the school district the money. They are going to own it, and after twenty years, they have paid the loan off, they own it completely outright. They own it on Day 1, but in twenty years they own it outright with no secured interest in it, and they’ve also paid off the loan, so the cost of that energy will be substantially less, almost free energy at that point, and if all goes well, it should produce for about thirty-five years.”

In the conclusion of this news piece, we learn a little more about the lending agency promoting renewable energy, and what our local students can learn as the project gets underway.




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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