As students and teachers head back to the classroom this month, thousands of school districts across the United States are relying on solar and storage technologies to keep their power on and their energy bills in check.
According to Generation180, the amount of solar installed at K-12 schools in the United States has tripled since 2015. Today, over 6 million students attend a solar-powered school, and it is not hard to see why so many school administrators are turning to solar.
School buildings and other public infrastructure are prime candidates for solar energy. They have large rooftops, consistent energy needs, and strict budgets. The reliable, low-cost energy created by solar power is good for the school’s budget, the community’s resilience, and the students’ education.
Here are a few examples of how solar is supporting American schools.
Saving Money for Students
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, after staff salaries, energy costs are the most expensive budget item for school districts. Installing solar can save school districts millions of dollars with little to no upfront costs for school districts.
A school district in Batesville, Arkansas made headlines a few years ago when it announced that it would raise teacher salaries up to 30% because of electricity bill savings from its solar array. After seeing Batesville’s success, thirty other school districts in Arkansas adopted solar.
Other schools across the country are also following suit.
Highland Schools in Illinois is expected to save over $2 million as a result of their solar investment and Sheridan Community Schools in Indiana is redirecting $1.3 million every year to teacher salaries as a result of their solar project.
These solar savings are also helping schools make much needed upgrades to their infrastructure.
Eatontown, New Jersey is completely replacing its heating and ventilation systems at no cost to the taxpayers, thanks to the savings from its solar installation.
Teaching the Clean Energy Economy
Solar-powered schools are also using their arrays to create new learning opportunities for students. In districts throughout the country, solar panel installation and maintenance are now part of their STEM curriculum, helping prepare students for careers in clean energy.
In Virginia, Louisa County High School offers a course where students can learn how solar panels work and then install panels on school grounds. The class has translated into thousands of dollars in energy savings for the school and vital hands-on experience for students looking to start a career in this quickly growing industry.
In Idaho, the Solar 4R Schools program places new solar installations on school property and offers participating districts unique classroom kits tailored to each grade level. Students of all ages can learn about solar energy production and take part in the clean energy future that they will graduate into.
As the solar industry grows, these educational opportunities will help prepare students for well-paying jobs and position the United States workforce to thrive in the global clean energy economy.
With communities, companies, and consumers across the country now accessing the benefits of our solar-powered future, it’s only right that teachers and students do too. Abundant, affordable, homegrown solar energy is helping schools invest more in their students and helping students get more out of their schools.
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