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11/20/2012 4:41:00 PM
Solar projects boost Prescott Valley building permit values
Les Stukenberg/Courtesy of The Daily Courier
Construction workers install new solar panel structures at Glassford Hill Middle School Tuesday.
Les Stukenberg/Courtesy of The Daily Courier
Construction workers install new solar panel structures at Glassford Hill Middle School Tuesday.

Ken Hedler
Special to the Tribune


PRESCOTT VALLEY - Permits for single-family homes generally account for the highest valuations of any construction category in the quad-city area and throughout Yavapai County.

Not so in October in the Town of Prescott Valley. The 14 permits for commercial improvements exceeded $3.7 million in value, $852,606 higher than the valuations for the 13 permits for single-family homes issued that month.

The three permits for solar projects at three campuses of the Humboldt Unified School District each exceeded $1 million in value, and accounted for a majority of the valuations for commercial improvements in October. www.aps.com">Arizona Public Service hired REC Solar of San Luis Obispo, Calif., to do the projects.

The town's building staff follows standard valuations from the International Building Code while determining the value of a building that results from issuing a permit, Community Development Director Richard Parker said.

"We are building more commercial improvements in Prescott Valley," he said. While housing construction has stagnated in recent years in Prescott Valley, commercial building activity has picked up.

The solar projects fall under the commercial improvements even though they are taking place on public property: Granville and Coyote Springs Elementary and Glassford Hill Middle schools.

The Humboldt school district is taking advantage of a program that the Arizona Corporation Commission implemented in 2010, said Ken Johnson, project manager for the district.

The district applied for solar projects at three campuses in 2011 with the goal of cutting electricity costs: Lake Valley, Mountain View and Liberty Traditional elementary schools. Construction took place this summer and included solar panels, shaded structures for parking lots and playgrounds, and inverters that send electricity to transformers, Johnson said.

Coyote Springs, Granville and the middle school each will receive 1,200 solar panels, he said.

When the solar work is completed in December, the panels at the six schools will produce a combined capacity exceeding 1.5 million kilowatts, according to Jenna Shaver, a spokeswoman for APS in Phoenix. The district will be eligible for three other school sites in 2013.

That kilowatt figure will amount to 20 percent of the electricity that the district uses, Johnson said.

The district will pay APS a verified rate of about 7.5 cents per kilowatt-hour that APS guarantees for 20 years, Johnson said. The rate applies even when the solar panels are not generating electricity, Shaver explained.

District schools currently average a little higher than 8 cents per kilowatt-hour, Johnson said.

"The main benefit is no capital up front (for the district to pay)," Johnson said.

He said all the equipment except for the solar panels is manufactured in the United States.


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