Penn's Valley High School Awaits Funding Decision for Clean Energy Program
Whether or not Penns Valley Area High School runs on wood chips or oil hinges on a $868,989 grant from the State.
They are awaiting a decision on the Alternative and Clean Energy Program grants this week. School board members say they need the funding to make a biomass heating system project feasible.
Board members say they don't want the district to spend more than $1.5 million on the project.
The heating system would operate on wood chips, and the savings would be based on the cost of gasoline.
Business manager Jeffrey Wall told the board that project could pay for itself -- at least for the district's expenses -- within eight to nine years, assuming gas prices rise by 3 percent annually. That's a conservative estimate, he said.
"We haven't tried to look at this through rose-colored glasses," said board member Larry Bair.
The district's been working on the project for more than a year.
In August, the district was awarded a $788,956 grant for the project, through federal stimulus dollars. The board was scheduled to award construction bids in November but delayed that after one of the biomass providers declared bankruptcy. In March, bids came in twice as high as expected.
"You had to regroup and go back again," board member Allan Darr said, thanking administrators and other board members who were heavily involved with the project. "But your perseverance paid off. We have a very good project here for the school district and the region."
The board awarded the contracts for the project at Wednesday night's meeting, on the condition that the district receive the state grant.
If completed, the system would fully heat the high school and a maintenance building, and partially heat the building that houses Penn's Valley Area Elementary and Intermediate schools.