A solar power project will cut energy costs and offset nearly half the electricity needs for a Virginia school district.
The project will provide the Isle of Wight County Schools a 3.3 megawatt solar system, which is being implemented by Standard Solar. The solar project will be installed on the rooftops of seven schools and provide 4,252 megawatt hours of clean energy a year.
The project is part of the Virginia Clean Economy Act, the state’s plan to transition to 100% clean energy by 2050. Virginia ranks 11th in the county in solar energy installations, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.
A report by Generation 180 says 89 schools in Virginia had implemented solar projects by 2019, with the number tripling between 2017 and 2019. Standard Solar will own and operate the Wight County systems.
“Incorporating solar energy is cost-effective and helps the environment while reducing energy expenses and funneling savings to resources that directly impact student success,” says Dr. Jim Thornton, division superintendent of Isle of Wight County Schools.
Schools have been active in making improvements regarding energy efficiency. Many efforts revolve around improving lighting systems in buildings and HVAC systems.
One such project for St. Joseph School District in Missouri is expected to save it $2.1 million over a 15-year agreement with Schneider Electric. Another at Jeanette City School District in Pennsylvania is expected to save $3.6 million in energy costs.
Larger scale renewable energy projects are proving more difficult. The Miami Herald reported that the Miami-Dade Schools are seeking 100% renewable energy by 2030, but without a big increase in funding and cooperation from the local utilities.
Still, smaller projects like the one between Isle of Wight County Schools and Standard remain possible.
Standard Solar has helped other Virginia schools with solar implementation, including the Augusta County and Richmond public school districts. Standard Solar says the Richmond project is the largest solar power system for schools in Virginia and will save the district $2 million over 20 years.
Standard has also built school projects in California, Maryland and Michigan.
“This project is a shining example of the potential of the Virginia Clean Economy Act at work, making solar accessible and affordable for schools throughout Dominion Energy’s territory,” says John Finnerty, Standard Solar’s director of business development.
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