Ten AllSun Trackers now adorn the lawn at Laraway Youth and Family Services in Johnson. The trackers were installed in October and went live on the 25th. Martin photo
by Andrew Martin
JOHNSON – Laraway Youth and Family Services is now a member of the power-producing community. The Johnson based school has entered into a partnership with several other parties, and as a result there are now 10 solar trackers on the Laraway campus.
The solar trackers were installed in late October by the company Engineers Construction, Inc. and went live on October 25. According to Stefanski the 10 trackers, which are located behind and to the right of the Laraway buildings, will produce approximately 75-80 percent of the power currently used at the facility.
Laraway made the agreement to install the trackers with two outside parties. The first was AllEarth Renewables (AR), the Williston-based energy company that produces the AllSun Trackers used in the project. AR had previously approached the Laraway School about the possibility of installing the trackers and when the energy company later informed officials at Laraway that the trackers could be installed at no cost to the school the agreement took off.
The trackers were available for install free of charge for Laraway due to the fact that Green Lantern Development (GLD) funded that portion of the project. GLD is a group that brings together investors to support alternative energy initiatives. With the installation of the trackers paid for, officials at Laraway quickly moved to make the 60 kW project happen. A fourth party involved in the project was the Village of Johnson Water and Light Department, which erected a new electrical pole near Laraway, thereby allowing the new power produced by the trackers to enter the grid.
“The trackers were the result of a wonderful partnership between AllEarth Renewables, the installation company, Green Lantern Development, and the Johnson Village Water and Light Department,” stated Laraway Executive Director Greg Stefanski.
Moving forward, the 10 trackers will be owned by GLD for at least the next seven years and are expected to create roughly 78,960 kWh per year. During that time GLD and Laraway will be entered into a Power Purchase Agreement, meaning that Laraway will be purchasing the power from GLD for five percent less than normal. The Power Purchase Agreement will run for a time period of 25 years, but Laraway shall have the option to purchase some or all of the trackers outright at fair market value in years 7, 10, 15, or 20 of the lease.
“We will not only have the immediate benefit of receiving a five percent reduction in our electrical expenses, but we will also have the potential benefit of purchasing the trackers in the future if the funds are available, making us more energy self sufficient,” stated Stefanski, who went on to explain that another benefit will be how the trackers and their part in solar energy production can be incorporated into the curriculum at Laraway.
“We hope that some of our older students may even become interested enough in the trackers and solar energy to pursue careers in the field,” he continued, “The trackers also symbolize our goal of empowering our children. We have now empowered our facility in a similar way by taking this step. I am most excited about the project and how we will now be able to incorporate it with our students and programs.”