Voters in the Homer School District are asked to head to the polls today to consider a 25-year land lease to accommodate a solar energy project.
The polls are open from Noon to 7pm today at the high school music building. The district is partnering with Florida-based energy supplier NextEra Energy Resources.
The company would build, own and operate a 1.75-megawatt solar panel array on a piece of land in East Homer owned by local dairy farmer Fred Forbes.
The project is expected to save the school district over $40 thousand dollars a year in electricity costs, over the life of the lease that would amount to $2 million in savings.
Homer Resident Victor Siegle is opposed to the project. Siegle says the 25-year lease term is too long and a number of things could change before the contract expires.
Homer Schools Superintendent Nancy Ruscio says there is no cost to the district for this project. NextEra will build the solar panels using state and federal tax credits that were awarded to the district.
The school district is incurring some legal fees and if the school district were to exit the lease early could have to pay a pro-rated penalty. Ruscio says current energy trends don’t suggest a decline in prices. The project demonstrates not only a cost savings but a commitment to clean renewable energy.
Siegle was also critical of what he feels is a lack of information on the project and contract.
Siegle also believes that the cost of solar panels will continue to decline and says the panels for the project would be manufactured outside of the U.S.
If the project is approved students will be able to access the site to learn about solar power and photovoltaic cells.