Sun Tribe Solar gave a presentation to the Mecklenburg County School Board at the January meeting on Tuesday the 21st. Mr. Dalton introduced the company explaining that they have done numerous K - 12 projects throughout the Commonwealth. “We were very excited to hear what they had to say and offer us at our schools. We asked them to come and visit. We toured the elementary school sights and tonight we have Mr. Frank Dubec from Sun Tribe Solar and he’s going to give you a presentation for information about the project.”
Mr. Dubec, a Development Manager with Sun Tribe, started with a little background into the company. “We are basically a construction company that plays in the solar space. I think more fundamental to our DNA, we understand the inevitability of renewable energy and we’re really finding partners to bring that to fruition.” Mr. Dubec continued, “The programs and deals that we put together are long-term so it helps to have a really solid working relationship.” The company has successfully worked on 50 projects within the state of Virginia, with about nine projects in the works. Sun Tribe is Charlottesville based and is one of the largest solar providers in the state. “When you look at the Dominion Pilot Program, between selling and constructing we’ve touched 80% of that.” explained Mr. Dubec.
For the new school property the company is looking at using ground mounts instead of roof top mounts. “They’re really cool, simple, solid state, non moving parts, safe to the touch, [and they’re] fenced in. The only real sound is made from the inverter, which has fans that spin when the sun is shining really bright. The grass will be maintained inside of the fence and we have recently switched over pollinator friendly grasses, which is good for things like honey bees, butterflies, or birds. We just feel that it’s the right thing to do and its sort of an added bonus to what we do.”
There will be no out-of pocket costs, no maintenance cost, the panels will reduce monthly energy expenses, hedge against rising costs in the market, and provides third party financing. The company has already partnered with different organizations, businesses, and schools in the state such as: Middlesex County, Virginia Beach, Newport News, Powhatan, Henrico, UVA Library, and Henrico Mental Health.
Sun Tribe prides itself on education integration that is tailored to the school district. “If we get to work with you we want to be able to provide grants to have a curriculum integration.” Students can explore solar technology, ready-made lesson plans, and the program can be aligned with Virginia SOLs, Common Core, and STEM curriculums.
The proposal outline detailed no upfront cost, $0.0934 energy price, a 30 year Power Purchase Agreement, with an estimated lifetime savings of $1,149,000. Mr. Gavin Honeycutt asked if the proposed sites for the projects was property that the school already owns so that there is no additional cost for land purchase. Mr. Nichols and Mr. Dalton both pointed out that land was already owned by the school system. Mr. Glenn Edwards asked who was responsible for the equipment at the end of the Power Purchase Agreement term in 30 years. Mr. Dubec pointed out that the company maintained full responsibility for all of the equipment and if the decision was made not to renew the contract, the land would be returned to its original state at no cost to the school. The solar panels are a bankable asset, meaning that if anything was to happen to the Sun Tribe company, there would be no loss on the schools end. It is important to remember that details of the proposal are subject to change as the process moves forward. Please refer to the Mecklenburg County Schools website for the full presentation from Frank Dubec with Sun Tribe Solar.