ANN ARBOR, MI – Solar power is is coming to another Ann Arbor Public Schools elementary after the district’s school board approved a project to install a solar array atop Bryant Elementary.
The project, which will be funded by the $1 billion capitol bond the district passed in 2019, was approved on a second reading Wednesday, May 27, making Bryant Elementary the sixth large-scale solar installation project the board has approved in the past two years.
AAPS plans to install a 150kW array that will generate electricity to be used in the school building and reduce utility expenditure for the life of the system. Construction on the project is expected to be completed by the fall.
AAPS received five bids for the project, accepting the bid of Homeland Solar of Ann Arbor, which provided the lowest qualified bid of $281,300 in a partnership with Harper Electric of Ann Arbor. A 10% contingency of $28,130 also was approved to account for unforeseen circumstances, for a total project cost of $309,430.
On an annual basis, the six current AAPS solar installation projects will offset, on average, the electricity of 160 homes, said Emile Lauzzana, AAPS executive director for capital projects.
“Another way thinking about it is, every year this will displace the need to burn 150,000 pounds of coal with these six systems,” he said during a first briefing for the Bryant Elementary project earlier this month.
Installations of solar arrays on AAPS buildings began last summer, with Homeland Solar installing a 300-panel solar array installed atop Pattengill Elementary that is expected to generate 100kW of solar power.
Other projects have since been approved and installed throughout the district, including Huron High School, Haisley Elementary, Forsythe Middle School and A2 STEAM.
At a cost of $1.97 per watt, Lauzanna said the systems have a 25-year lifespan. The district expects the projects will generate enough electricity over the next 10 to 14 years to pay for themselves.
Leading up to the November 2019 capital bond vote, many Ann Arbor residents considered what the bond will mean for reducing the district’s carbon footprint. Ann Arbor Public Schools identified having sustainable and environmentally responsible infrastructure as one of its four goals related to the bond.
A district assessment called for the installation of solar panels on roofs of buildings at several schools over the next couple of decades, in addition to significant HVAC and LED lighting upgrades.
At Bryant Elementary, the solar array will be installed atop a newly-replaced roof. In February, the Board of Education approved a contract with Bloom Roofing of Brighton to replace the roof at a cost of $614,000.