Pennsylvania colleges beginning to prioritize solar energy

By Chris Crowell May 19, 2022 View ProfileFrankford High School in Philadelphia solar demo. Photo credit score: Generation 180

The quantity of solar at Ok-12 colleges in Pennsylvania doubled since 2020, based on a brand new statewide report on colleges’ adoption of solar revealed by Generation180, a clear energy nonprofit — rising from 14.5 MW to almost 29 MW in a two-year interval. The report can be fast to notice although, regardless of this progress and success, that’s nonetheless lower than 2% of Ok-12 colleges (108 complete) within the state.

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Key to the present momentum? Financing buildings that enable districts to put in solar at no upfront prices — 66% of those put in solar initiatives had been financed by third-party possession, power buy agreements (PPAs). For college students, this implies the chance to study clear energy jobs, know-how and environmental advantages. For colleges, this implies critical value financial savings.

For instance, Midd-West School District in Middleburg is 95% powered by solar and expects to scale back their electrical energy invoice by $9 million over 40 years. Tamaqua Area School District in Schuylkill County powers 100% of its electrical energy consumption with a solar array located on a former coal mine website. They anticipate energy value financial savings of $11 million over the 40-year life expectancy of the solar panels.

“Solar is a huge win for Pennsylvania schools. Since schools can go solar without having to find the funds in their tight budgets, there is a tremendous opportunity for all schools across the Commonwealth to access the cost-saving, educational, and health benefits,” stated Shannon Crooker, Pennsylvania Director, Generation180. “Every school district can do this, regardless of its size or wealth.

That last note is also key. The report also found that third-party ownership enabled schools in under-resourced communities to overcome financial barriers and access the benefits of solar technology. Nearly two-thirds (61%) of Pennsylvania schools with solar are eligible for the Title I program, which provides federal financial assistance for schools with students from low-income families. For instance, Tamaqua Area School District and Steelton-Highspire School District are meeting all of their building electricity needs and saving millions in long-term energy costs with solar arrays installed at Title I schools.

“Going solar was a huge advantage for our district in that it made 95% of our energy costs a known fixed cost that won’t fluctuate based upon the market,” stated Joe Stroup, Midd-West School District Superintendent. “The savings, previously budgeted for energy expenses, can be diverted to things directly related to meeting student needs.”

The report’s findings come as Pennsylvania utilities plan to boost electrical energy costs beginning on June 1.

Pennsylvania school solar fielsMidd-West’s West Snyder Elementary. Photo credit score: Green Works Development

The state ought to contemplate the impression of boosting that general quantity. If all Pennsylvania Ok-12 colleges put in an average-sized solar array, they’d get rid of carbon dioxide emissions annually equal to closing almost 4 methane-fired power crops.

Generation180 not too long ago expanded its Solar for All Schools marketing campaign into Pennsylvania, the place it should assist colleges as they swap to solar power, notably in additional under-resourced and deprived communities. Generation180 gives technical help to highschool district employees and advocacy assist to scholar and group advocates—people that play a vital position in driving solar adoption on the college district-level.

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