Aztec school board approves solar project

Joshua Kellogg
Aztec Municipal School District Superintendent Kirk Carpenter talks last month about the district's planned solar energy project outside the district's administration office in Aztec.

AZTEC — The Aztec Municipal School District Board of Education has approved extending Superintendent Kirk Carpenter’s contract and pursuing a renewable energy project.

Board members on Thursday approved a resolution to authorize Carpenter to negotiate a contract with Taos-based PPC Solar to install nearly 8,000 square feet of solar panels on the roofs of district facilities. PPC Solar was the only company to submit a bid for the project.

The action was presented to the board in a meeting last month, but members voted to table the motion until they learned more about the project and contract, according to board President Wayne Ritter.

“We had some questions to make sure we had everything in order,” Ritter said.

Five subarrays of 450 photovoltaic modules will be installed on the roofs of the covered parking structures for buses and the transportation department office behind the district’s administration building at 1118 W. Aztec Blvd.

Additional equipment will be installed to tie the system into the administration building.

The project is expected to cost about $350,000, according to Gary Martinez, the district's finance director.

The system could generate about $34,000 in electricity savings in its first year, according to a proposal from PPC Solar. It could also lead to an annual average savings of about $55,900 each year for 25 years.

The proposal also states the system could fulfill the electricity requirements for the district’s administration building, which costs the district about $53,000 a year.

Martinez said once the contract is finalized, the project is expected to be completed by summer 2017.

Board members also voted on Thursday to extend Carpenter’s contract through June 30, 2019.

Carpenter’s current contract started on July 1, 2015, and was set to expire on June 30, 2018.

The board met in a special closed work session before Thursday’s meeting to conduct an annual evaluation of Carpenter’s performance.

Afterward, each of the board members praised Carpenter, before the board voted unanimously to extend his contract. Carpenter's annual salary will be about $116,870, according to the board's resolution.

“I don’t know where this district would be without his leadership," said board Vice President Roger Collins. “I think he does a great job.”

Carpenter said he enjoys working with the district's board, students and staff.

“I’m surrounded by good people and that makes work a better place,” he said. “I just believe you are as good as the people you surround yourself with.”

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.