CHEBOYGAN — On Monday night, the Cheboygan Area Schools Board of Education voted to table a proposal for solar energy for the school district for more information, until the district has its attorney’s approval.
Last month, a proposal to construct solar panels at several of the Cheboygan Area Schools buildings had been presented by US Global Energy and the matter was placed on the agenda for the school board’s April meeting. However, the contract was not ready to be approved at that meeting, so it needed to be tabled.
“I talked to both Thrun (Law Firm) and US Global today,” said Cheboygan Area Schools Superintendent Paul Clark. “They’re not ready to bring the power purchase agreement to you yet because Thrun is not at a point where they’re ready to recommend that we accept the current power purchasing agreement.”
Clark said the two sides — Thrun Law Firm and US Global Energy — were planning on having a meeting together in the next several weeks to have a discussion. Clark is hopeful there will be a power purchasing agreement that can be brought before the board of education at its May meeting for approval.
“It’s possible that, if things don’t work out, that it might not happen,” said Clark. “We’re trying very hard to make it happen but, obviously, we want Thrun’s stamp of approval that this is right and everything is proceeding how it should.”
The original power purchasing agreement the law firm had drafted was around four years old and since that time, there have been many different advancements and improvements made in energy production.
“It’s not that they don’t agree with power purchasing agreements that Thrun now has,” said Clark. “It’s basically the support of Thrun over the next 20 years, for us, and that that cost should be passed on to the energy company.”
In the proposal made to the school district in March, it was stated this project would be done at no cost to the district whatsoever.
Clark said the energy company is confident it will be able to work something out with the school district’s legal counsel and he is optimistic the agreement will be ready to go for the school board members to review at their next meeting.
If the deal between the school district and the energy company were to fall apart, the school district may be liable to pay its attorney for the time spent working on the agreement. However, both sides are currently working very hard to make sure there is no cost to the district. If the deal goes through, the energy company will be the ones paying the lawyers.
The school board members voted unanimously to table the matter until the two sides can do more work.
As a part of the agreement, the solar panels would be installed at the Inverness Academy building and at East Elementary. The agreement between Cheboygan Area Schools and US Global Energy is a 20 year commitment. At the end of that time, if the district were to choose not to continue using the solar panels for any reason, they will be disassembled and removed at no cost to the district.