HCC board member Richard Norling commented that the state has four large buildings with similar solar energy systems, including the one he works in, "and that has done fine for them [the state]."

"What kind of maintenance do the panels require?" board member Doris Carey asked.

Tecta will own, maintain and replace the panels, Dodson said, and, in general, they require "very low maintenance."

Questions were also raised about the frequency of inspection and how the panels will hold up in inclement weather.


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Panels are typically inspected twice a year, answered construction manager Patrick Bollinger, but the timetable coincides with the area's environment (snow, rain, etc.). He added that the panels are built to withstand high winds and snow.

Once installed, Rabe continued, the system will be monitored in real time and the college and Tecta will have a kiosk that shows the voltage being generated. If anything goes wrong, the company will be able to fix things relatively quickly, he said.

HCC's Johnson explained later over the phone that the buildings to be outfitted with the panels have been selected based on the age of their roofs, because HCC and Tecta wouldn't want to install the panels, which would most likely be there for 20 or more years, on a roof that needs to be replaced in the next few years.

Johnson explained that the college is basically taking advantage of its flat roof space and essentially leasing it to Tecta to generate electricity with solar.

Tecta will then sell the energy the panels generate to a third entity – a power distributor, though they don't know who that will be at the moment. Then the distributor, which earns the tax credits from the project, sells the energy back to the college at a discounted price.

The project itself will cost Tecta about $2.5 million to outfit the buildings with the panels, but because the college is tax exempt and can't collect energy tax credits, "it wouldn't be financially feasible without those incentives," Johnson said of the deal's proposed structure.