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story.lead_photo.caption Superintendent John L Colbert on Thursday addresses the Fayetteville School Board at the Adams Leadership Center. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Mary Jordan)

FAYETTEVILLE -- The School Board on Thursday approved advancing on a solar energy project that's anticipated to save the School District more than $9.8 million.

The board voted 6-0 to approve Nabholz, a Rogers-based commercial contractor, as the vendor to make the 2020 Solar Energy Project a reality.

Keaton Smith, board member, recused himself from the vote due to serving on the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association Board.

The project will result in no upfront costs to the district and is projected to save the district more than $9.8 million over the project's 28-year power purchase agreement, said Megan Slocum, assistant superintendent of support services.

Nabholz will use the services of Entegrity to purchase land in support of the project, as well as to install, own, operate and maintain the system throughout the duration of the contract, Slocum said.

Entegrity is a Fayetteville-based energy services, sustainability and solar development company specializing in implementing energy conservation and renewable energy projects, according to the company's website.

"Just like we don't maintain and operate our own electrical plant, our business is education," Slocum said. "We know our lane and are making sure we stay within our areas of expertise."

The project will include the development of one-megawatt and five-megawatt solar panel arrays to be built at two to-be-determined locations in Fayetteville, she said.

Nathan Parker, the district's assistant director of physical plant services, said the project would take about six to eight months to complete once it's approved by the utility commission on a future date.

Slocum said the project will impact all district buildings in support of the efforts to create sustainable facilities.

"We are being cognizant of energy conservation, and one way that we can do that is by harnessing some other power beyond what we've used in the past," she said.

The project also offers an educational opportunity for district students to see the real-world application of what they're learning about sustainable energy at school, Slocum said.

"We'll have a true tangible experience that kids can see," she said.

In other news, the School Board voted 7-0 in support of revising the budget for the 2020-2021 school year.

The budget was originally approved in May, said Glenda Sullins, director of finance.

"School looks a little different than it did in May," Sullins said of the need for updating the budget during the covid-19 pandemic.

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Board Meetings

Fayetteville’s School Board meetings are livestreamed on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrvo4fc7vCuce7FWUyX9GLg.

Source: Fayetteville School Board

Mary Jordan can be reached by email at mjordan@nwadg.com or on Twitter @NWAMaryJ.

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