WHEATFIELD — At Monday’s Kankakee Valley School Board meeting on Feb. 11, the board approved a resolution authorizing a ground lease for Wabash Valley Energy Marketing, Inc. to construct a solar facility and a subscription agreement with Jasper County REMC allowing the school corporation to lock in a rate for a portion of its electrical use.

The plan calls for the school corporation to lease 17.5 acres, north of the intermediate school, to the Wabash Valley Energy Marketing, Inc., which supplies electricity to the Jasper County REMC. The subscription with REMC will lock in a rate for 40 percent of the consumption used by the corporation office, the intermediate school, middle school and high school. Carol Deardorff, chief financial officer for the school corporation, said it would be a rate slightly less than what they are paying currently. The locked in rate will last for 30 years at least.

Wabash Valley will lease the land for about $7,700 per year. Floyd said 5,113 solar blocks generate 1533.9 kilowatts, but he didn’t know how many of those blocks will be on one solar panel. The energy marketing company will construct and maintain the solar panels, and at the end of the life cycle of the panels, are responsible for the deconstruction of the solar farm.

Former Superintendent Dr. Aaron Case, who left the corporation at the end of November, began the discussions with Wabash Valley and REMC in the fall last year. Case put out a “Request for Proposal” for the solar farm, and Wabash responded. Deardorff was also involved in some of the meetings with the companies. The expectation is for the construction of the solar panels to begin this year. When all the paperwork is signed, the building will begin after 30 days.

Jasper County REMC CEO Brian Washburn said when Dr. Case reached out to them, saving on energy costs was important to him and to REMC as well. “We knew the corporation would have challenges going forward and solar offered a solution,” Washburn said, “by locking in a portion of their energy needs for 30 years.”

He said costs are locked in as well. It will make it easier for the corporation to budget also, he said. Case, he said, wanted a partner that would make economic sense for them both. “We appreciated that attitude,” Washburn said.

“Who better to partner with than a school system?” he asked. He said plans are to have the solar field up and operational in July or August of this year.