North Putnam Schools
The North Putnam Community School Corporation has taken a significant step for controlling their energy costs for the next 25 years, while also providing backup power so that the Indian middle and high schools can function as a public emergency shelter during outages. Working with Johnson-Melloh Solutions, Inc., an Indiana energy services company, to install 5,000 solar panels, and using JLM Energy’s storage plus smart energy management technology to add 300 kilowatts of battery storage to complement an existing 1.6 megawatt solar farm, the North Putnam Middle and High Schools are now powered by solar and protected against power outages with energy storage.
In addition to delivering added resiliency to the community, energy storage was integrated into the system because of transmission and distribution infrastructure limitations on the amount of solar power that could be exported to the grid. Instead of curtailing output during periods of peak solar production, the schools use the batteries to store solar electricity for later use. The added energy storage capability both reduces North Putnam’s electric bills and delivers energy back to the utility, Duke Energy, at a constant rate throughout the day. The school district is the first in Indiana to power two of its schools with net-zero solar energy.
JLM’s management software, called Measurz, monitors the solar+storage system to provide real-time control of energy use by optimizing performance and automatically determining when the electricity generated by the solar farm should be used by the building, sold back to the grid, or stored in the batteries. Information kiosks located throughout the school allow students to view an energy dashboard, showing the building’s current energy demand.
The non-debt financing program used to finance the energy storage system was provided by a community bank that required no upfront capital. The solar PV system was financed without any solar incentives and the project did not raise any local tax levy. It has provided positive cash flow to the school district since it was installed, saving $241,895 in the first year; the project is expected to pay for itself in 14.2 years (based on information presented by JLM). According to Bob McKinney, Johnson- Melloh Solution’s president, the system is estimated to deliver millions of dollars in electricity bill savings over the life of the project.
“They’ve estimated we’re going to make $8 million in 20 years,” said Dan Noel, Superintendent of North Putnam Community School Corporation in a recent video about the project. “I see it as being more than that…[It’s] clean air, clean water, and clean energy.”
Year Commissioned: 2016
Services Provided: Demand management, Renewables integration, Backup power
Supported Infrastructure: Emergency shelter at middle and high schools
Solar: 1.6 MW solar farm
Storage: 300kW/360kWh lead acid batteries (Absorbed Glass Mat)
Project Partners: North Putnam Community School Corporation, Fronius USA, Johnson-Melloh Solutions, JLM Energy