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Solar farm next to MES should be complete by start of school year

The solar farm panels are next to the playground behind Middlesex Elementary School (MES) at Locust Hill. (Photo by Larry Chowning)

by Larry Chowning

The solar farm behind Middlesex Elementary School (MES) at Locust Hill is well under way and expected to be completed by August 15 in time for the start of the new school year in September.

The MES playground backs up to the new solar farm and its numerous panels. The solar farm is being built in partnership with Middlesex County Public Schools and Sun Tribe Solar of Charlottesville. It will be the second largest solar installation to date with a public school system in Virginia.

Throughout the process, school officials and industry spokespersons have made it clear the facility poses no danger to children.

At the March 2018 school board meeting, Hartfield District school board member Jim Goforth asked Rich Allevi, co-founder and director of operations of Sun Tribe Solar, about safety to children being so close to the facility.

Allevi said the entire process of building, installing and use of solar panels is safe and is regulated under Federal Communication Commission standards. “Everything is safe,” he said.

Cell phones, washing machines and solar panels all emit a small electro magnetic field, but all are deemed safe for humans, he noted. 

A fence erected around the project is to protect the firm’s investment and to keep children safe and from getting inside the solar farm. 

Sun Tribe will build, own, operate and maintain the MES solar photovoltaic system for the life of the 25-year agreement.

Solar-generated electricity will be sold to the school system by Dominion Power at a guaranteed rate of .068KwH, which is cheaper than electricity from conventional sources. The Middlesex school system is expected to save over $2.5 million in electricity costs over the life of the system ($50,000 annually).

posted 07.11.2018

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