With schools striving to save money, go green, and teach their students about clean energy, many schools are going solar to meet goals. Not only does going solar help schools save money, but it supplies an enormous opportunity for students to receive firsthand experience in clean energy. These skills can be used to help students secure jobs in the rapidly expanding clean energy economy. By putting solar on their roofs, schools are doing more to invest in the education of future generations.
Here are five school systems that took big steps to go solar in 2013. Use them as inspiration to help your school “Put Solar On It” in 2014.
1) Los Angeles Unified School District and SolarCity
SolarCity is powering a 7.4-megawatt (MW) solar power project that will bring renewable energy to 26 Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools. The project will bring immediate and long-term cost savings to the District and is expected to save more than $776,000 in their first year and more than $25 million over the next 20 years.
2) NRDC Crowdfunding Solar Schools
NRDC launched Solar Schools: Powering Classrooms, Empowering Communities. Their plan, ultimately, is to help every school in the country that wants solar to get it. In 2013, they raised $54,142 in a crowdfunding campaign with Indiegogo. This money is going toward their pilot program in 3-5 school communities as early as January 2014 and to roll out the beta to qualifying communities 6-12 weeks later.
3) UC Davis and SunPower
UC Davis recently completed development of their West Village community- the largest planned net zero community in the country. The West Village community includes a 4 megawatt SunPower solar PV system that will power 2,000 of its 3,000 apartment residents and helps UCD lay claim to the #1 spot in Sierra Club’s “Coolest Schools” ranking.
4) University of Massachusetts and First Wind
First Wind began construction on 17 megawatts of solar projects in the Massachusetts communities of Warren and Millbury in 2013. The majority of the power generated from the projects will be delivered to UMass via a long-term PPA. Through these solar projects, UMass will save more than $1 million in annual energy costs, or a total of more than $30 million over the course of the 30-year agreement.
5) Pinnacle Charter School and Mosaic / Distributed Sun
A joint project between Distributed Sun LLC (D-Sun) and Mosaic enabled individuals to invest in a 657 kW solar installation on a charter school in Colorado and earn an estimated 5.4% annually.
The 657 kW solar system powers The Pinnacle Charter School solar project provides 43 percent of the school’s electricity needs and an estimated $14,000 in energy savings in the first year. The project could save the school as much as $1.6 million in electricity costs over the lifetime of the project while teaching thousands of K-12 students about clean energy.