Why Schools are Going Solar

Why Schools are Going Solar

Funding for school districts varies year-to-year, leaving schools unsure as to how much money will be available to them to keep educating and molding the youth of the country. This uncertainty has forced school leaders to find methods to keep costs down in order to make the most of the funding that is provided to them. From 4-day school weeks to cutting extracurricular activities, schools have tried many different tactics to keep their budgets low. One option that is gaining in popularity is for schools to install solar panels to reduce the energy costs of the school. With decreased energy costs, schools are able to re-distribute that money in order to improve their existing programs and offer additional programs that will help the students learn and grow.

Solar Education with Students-1There are two main options for schools looking at going solar. The first option is for the school to purchase the solar array. In this scenario, the electric system of the school will consume the energy that the solar array produces instead of using electricity from the utility company, which will result in a lower energy bill for the school. For example, if a school pays $.12/kWh to the electric company, and uses 100,000 kWhs in a month, the electric bill would be $12,000. However, if the solar array produces 50,000 kWhs in that month, the electric bill would only be $6,000. Over the life of the solar array, around 25 years, the savings really add up. 

The second option is what is called a power purchase agreement, or PPA. In this scenario, the solar array is owned by an investor, but is still located at the school and the school will still consume the energy generated by the solar array. However, the investor will "sell" the energy to the school at a lower rate than what the electric company charges. Following the previous example, if the school pays the electric company $.12/kWh, the investor might charge the school $.10/kWh. The school would pay $5,000 to the investor and $6,000 to the electric company, which would decrease their overall electric bill by $1,000. 

While the PPA option has a lower monthly savings, the main draw of this option is that there is little-to-no up-front cost to the school since an investor would own the system, not the school. With the school-owned system, the school would realize a higher monthly savings, but would have to pay the initial costs for the solar array. 

Installing solar also provides educational opportunities to students, allowing them to learn more about science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and renewable energy. 

If your school is interested in learning more about how going solar can save them money, Harvest Energy Solutions has experts that can help.