Haverhill High Solar Project Before School Committee Tonight

A rendering of how solar panels will appear on the roof of Haverhill High School.

Haverhill School Committee members are being asked tonight to approve replacement of the Haverhill High School roof and installation of solar panels and authorize the administration to complete agreements with MassAmerican Energy.

The committee is responding to a letter from A. Quincy Vale, manager, MassAmerican Energy, Marlborough, asking that it authorize Haverhill Public Schools Superintendent James F. Scully to “negotiate, finalize and execute needed agreements” with the solar energy company. MassAmerican received city council approval last December to advance to an engineering stage a planned 2.2 megawatt solar energy array, which would include a free roof, under a 20-year lease.

“We have been hard at work finalizing our plans and gaining the necessary interconnection approval from National Grid. I am pleased to report that we now expect final approvals in August and expect to complete our work this year,” Vale wrote to the committee and Mayor James J. Fiorentini, chairman. “The photovoltaic (PV) system will generate electricity and solar renewable energy certificates; but more importantly the system will create an additional, significant source of revenue for the City. As was presented previously, this direct financial benefit is estimated to be at least $7 million based on conservative assumptions and current state program design and includes a new roof for the building that would otherwise need to be paid for directly by the taxpayers.”

Vale told WHAV this week solar projects must be completed by January in order to take advantage of state financial incentives. The company, which employs School Committeeman Sven A. Amirian, has a similar agreement to install solar panels on the roof of the Haverhill Police Station. Amirian was not yet a member of the school committee when MassAmerican competitively bid on the high school project last year. Vale said all disclosures have been made and Amirian has received a written opinion from the State Ethics Commission.

“We don’t have a signed contract yet, but we have an official designation from the city,
Vale said.

Among accomplishments during the engineering stage, according to Vale, are “an initial structural engineering review” to determine areas where the PV system will be “placed in areas with structural capacity sufficient to hold the system and snow per code;” an electrical engineering design and layout; roofing contractors “lined up and ready to commence installation upon finalization;” and “local, qualified contractors identified and job quoted.”

The power purchase agreement is subject to final approval by the city council.

“The power purchase agreement that would be presented to you would be a 20-year agreement and, at the end of that, presumably, the whole thing would come off the roof. There would be another new roof put on and the next, latest, greatest iteration of solar technology would be utilized to continue to provide electricity to the school and then, hopefully, pay for the whole thing again,” Vale said to councilors in December.

The Haverhill School Committee meets at 7 p.m., tonight, in Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers at Haverhill City Hall.

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