Schools going solar

Clarence Plank

Elida and Portales school districts will be getting $300,000 each in federal stimulus dollars for solar power projects, according to the state Public Education Department.

Department spokeswoman Beverly Friedman said each of 15 New Mexico school districts would receive that amount for a total of $4.5 million for school solar electricity projects in the state.

Elida Municipal Schools Superintendent Jim Daugherty said the school’s share of the money will probably be used to install solar panels next to the high school.

“We’ll be starting the process this coming week,” Daugherty said. “It won’t be the actual construction, but the planning process will begin this coming week and then construction just as soon as possible.”

Daugherty said he thinks the school will be saving approximately $10,000 a year with solar power.

“There was an application process for the projects,” Daugherty said. “We turned in an application and we were selected from the application that were submitted.”

The program is paid for by the American Recovery and Reinvestment State Energy Program administered by the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

Portales Municipal Schools Superintendent Randy Fowler said he received a call from the New Mexico Public Education Department asked if Portales was still interested in receiving the money even if it was half of what they were applying for.

“We had a plan for it in place when we built the new school (Lindsey-Steiner). We built it in, we just didn’t have the money as part of the project to do the solar array and that’s why we applied for the grant,” Fowler said.