A Greener Indiana

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Going green
Leader-Democrat Staff Writer
After a discussion that lasted 45
minutes, the West Washington School
Board voted 5-1 to proceed with the
installation of a solar powered water
heating system during a meeting Monday
The current system utilizes a 600-
gallon water tank which supplies hot
water to all parts of the school, a system
which is not very energy efficient
according to Facility Manager Tim
“The tank is very old and I’ve been
worried for some time about the bottom
falling out of it,” he said. “If that
happens, the school is completely out
of commission without hot water and
not to mention, flooded.”
Reinhart spoke with Superintendent
Gerald Jackson about the water heater
a year and a half ago.
“I told him then to make it last a
year and he’s done more than that,”
Jackson said.
Originally, Reinhart wanted to
replace the tank with a tankless, gas
powered system which initial bids suggest
would have cost between $26,000
and $33,000.
Since then Reinhart has discovered
a new option which would save the
school money and alleviate part of the
problem -- a solar thermal drain-back
A drain-back system is a closedloop,
active solar system that uses distilled
water as its heat transfer fluid. A
drain-back tank is installed on the
return side of the solar loop so that
when the system does not run, the
water collects in the tanks leaving the
collectors empty so there is no danger
of the water freezing in the winter.
A $25,000 solar energy grant from
Hoosier Energy is available to help the
school pay for the project, which will
cost $42,070, according to a bid from
Mann Plumbing, the preferred company
used by Hoosier Energy.
The cost to the school corporation
would be $17,070, unless additional
grants are secured.
“I know it’s $17,000 in a time when
we are trying to cut costs, but this is a
lot less than the other systems I’ve
looked at and it will save us money on
bills in the long run,” Reinhart said.
A report from Mann Plumbing presented
to the board says: “Based upon
assumptions made from the school’s
current usage and industry averages for
schools provided by Hoosier Energy
($5,000 to $7,000 a month for hot
water) the solar powered system would
save several thousand dollars a
Jackson said the system would easily
pay for itself in six to eight months.
While the solar powered water
heating system will solve the immediate
problem Reinhart said the board
needs to consider a long term plan as
well for replacing the hundreds of feet
of piping.
“We don’t use a lot of the hot water,
so it sits and cools in all these lines that
run throughout the school and then has
to be heated back up again before it
can be used, all of which takes energy,”
Reinhart said. “Honestly, the entire
system needs to be replaced with multiple,
smaller units throughout the
school, but that’s just not something
we have the money for right now and
this solar plan will work for now.”
Vice-President Leslie Batt questioned
Reinhart about just replacing
the entire system. Reinhart explained
that the grant is only for solar panel
technology and could not be used if a
different system was put in.
“Not to mention that replacing
everything would cost five or six times
what we will spend on the solar project,”
Reinhart said.
Batt argued that the board would be
in a similar situation 10 years from
now, saying they should save their
money until they can afford to redo the
entire system.
Jackson said he didn’t feel that was
an option given the age of the current
water storage tank.
Jim Brown moved to accept the
proposal from Mann Plumbing, Inc.
and the motion was seconded by Bill
VanCleave, passing 5-1 with Batt
In the proposal, Mann Plumbing
stated that the system should be up
and running by the time school
WWSC will purchase solar
powered water heating system
THURSDAY, JUNE 25, 2009 ISSUE 25 • 182ND YEAR Truth Without Fear SALEM, INDIANA 47167 75¢
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Tags: Bloomington, County, Energy, Hoosier, IN, Jackson, Mann, Plumbing, REMC, Solar, More…back, drain, high, hot, in, panels, school, solar, system, washington, water, west, www.mannplumbinginc.com


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