Green Forest school board approves Entegrity agreement
By Haley Schichtl
The Green Forest school board decided to sign a contract with Entegrity at its special business meeting Tuesday.
Under the agreement, Entegrity will build a solar energy facility to generate electricity that will be fed into the power grid in exchange for a credit that will reduce the school district’s electric bill.
Superintendent Matt Summers said he spoke with Dr. Michael Hester, superintendent of the Batesville School District, about their agreement with Entegrity. The Batesville district is in the second year of its contract with Entegrity, but the district owns and maintains its own solar facility and will save more money.
However, the opportunity to buy out the Green Forest facility won’t be available to the school district in the new contract until the sixth year. The city of Green Forest recently signed an agreement with Entegrity as well, and the school district will reap additional savings by sharing the solar facility with the city.
Besides representatives from Entegrity, an Entergy representative was also at Tuesday’s meeting with a new one-year contract proposal, suggesting that the school board holds off on moving forward with Entegrity.
“Part of our belief in the Entegrity program was partnering with the city; every time we’ve had the opportunity to partner with another entity we’ve jumped at that because it usually saves money for both groups,” Summers said.
Entegrity representative Flint Richter said he is interested in working with Connect 4 students to teach them about solar energy basics.
“I’ve been in solar for 21 years, and 12 of those years I’ve been a trainer,” Richter said. “I teach aspiring solar scholars to install safe systems that produce well. As part of this program, we also wanted to donate what we call a solar suitcase. I design these solar suitcases as an educational tool.”
School board president Bud Phillips said his main concern with Entegrity’s contract is the 25-year length.
“It seems to me that we are in the fastest technological transition years that we’ve ever seen. The utility industry, in the next 10 years, will change no telling how much,” Phillips said. “How much cheaper in a 10-year period is this stuff going to get? And we’re locked into a 25-year deal.”
Richter responded that the rate of the solar energy hasn’t changed in the last five years, which has been enough time for other companies to try and compete.
“It’s a double-edged sword with 25 years; you’re locked in a rate, but you’re also locked in at a rate that’s lower than what you’re paying right now,” Richter said.
In other business, the board also voted to hold a luncheon meeting with all staff to review their techniques and practices Wednesday, Dec. 11.
The Green Forest school board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 18 at 5 p.m. in the high school library.