Knox County officials and Ameresco, Inc. announced today the completion of a $12.45 million Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC). In the spring of 2015, Ameresco was selected by Knox County to install more than 5MW of solar photovoltaic systems on the rooftops of 11 schools plus the Knox County Central Building, and ground-mount solar arrays at the Detention and Juvenile Justice Facilities. The project, recently completed, is expected to provide more than $29 million in energy savings to the County, as well as generating an aggregate approximately $14 million in positive bottom-line cash flow for the County over the next 30 years.
"Now that our solar installations are complete, we can begin to reap the benefits of our renewable energy project that will pay for itself, help to reduce our utility costs and support our community for years to come," said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. "This is a fiscally responsible energy solution that helps the environment, saves taxpayer dollars and provides a great learning tool for our students."
Ameresco and Knox County worked closely to determine the optimal financial structure, to develop the Qualified Energy Conservation Bond (QECB) application, and to finalize the technical solution. The project team analyzed over 90 Knox County School electric accounts and multiple county facilities to develop the project. As part of project design and implementation services, Ameresco provided all turnkey services. Ameresco provides a production guarantee for the life of the financing.
"Ameresco is honored to have worked together with Knox County to develop a customized technical and financial solution that is both fiscally attractive and environmentally responsible for the entire community," said Louis P. Maltezos, Executive Vice President, Ameresco. "With this award-winning 5.3 MW solar project in the state of Tennessee, Knox County's leadership and staff have inspired innovative renewable solutions while also generating a source of significant annual income and creating local jobs."
Construction on the project began in August 2015. The project was designed to maximize economic and environmental benefits of Knox County's QECB application. Local labor was utilized wherever possible, creating approximately 100 local jobs during the construction period.
The environmental benefits Knox County is expected to save are the equivalent of over 5,000 metric tons of CO2 per year. The green benefit from this carbon reduction is roughly equivalent to the annual GHG emissions from approximately 1,057 passenger vehicles or nearly 12 million miles a year driven by average passenger vehicles. Knox County will retain all rights to the Renewable Energy Credits (RECs).
The locations of the solar arrays include: AL Lotts Elementary School, Amherst Elementary School, Bearden Middle School, Central High School, Hardin Valley Academy, Karns High School, L&N STEM Academy, Powell Middle School, South Doyle Middle School, West High School, and the West Valley Middle School; as well as at the Detention Center, Juvenile Justice Facility, and the Knox County Central Building.