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Covered Parking and Solar Energy to Arrive Soon at Gila Community College

By Michele Nelson for the Payson Roundup

GCC is the latest school in the Rim Country to pursue solar.
Photo Credit: Andy Towle

The GCC board moved one step closer to breaking ground on its own solar energy system at its meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 29 by signing a letter of intent with Folium Energy, an alternative energy financing company.

Folium, based in Texas, is a producer, project developer and investor in alternative energies, including solar, wind and biomass.

For the past year, the GCC board has worked with Tom Harris, a consultant with PV Advanced Concepts to make all the pieces fit together. Harris, the managing partner, works with Arizona schools and rural counties to bring solar projects to these institutions.

“Schools, colleges and county governments are viewed as a good organization to write a 20-year contract,” said Harris.

Solar companies regularly sign these decades-long contracts to pay off the investors in the project.

Investors are necessary because, while a public institution is a safe bet in the long term, they do not have the up-front dollars necessary to pay for the solar equipment and the construction costs. Yet they do have the longevity to pay back the investors, said Harris.

How it works out for the investors is that they pay the construction and equipment costs up front and then use tax write-off benefits over the next 20 years to recoup their investment.

The project must break ground by the end of this year for the investors to take advantage of tax credits — which will please students and visitors who will be able to park their cars in the shade of the solar panels.

Read more at Payson Roundup