Of about 2,000 schools in Virginia, only 86 have installed solar panels. Still, a non-profit in Charlottesville says there’s been dramatic growth, and those schools are seeing significant savings.
A new report from a non-profit that promotes clean energy shows the number of schools that have added solar panels in Virginia tripled in the last two years.
“In Middlesex County, which is now the first school district in the state that is powering all of its school buildings with solar electricity, it’s going to save $4.74 million over the next 25 years,” says Tish Tablan, program director of Generation 180.
And kids are learning real life lessons in science and math by tracking the way solar panels absorb and convert sunshine into power. Most schools were able to invest thanks to a plan that costs little or nothing upfront.
“Ninety percent of the solar installations that have gone on schools in the past two years were been funded through power purchase agreements where a solar developer owns and maintains the solar panels," Tablan explains. "The school agrees to purchase the electricity from those panels for say 20-25 years.”
She notes the legislature limited the amount of power that could be generated this way in Dominion’s service area, and the state is rapidly approaching that cap. She hopes lawmakers will lift it during their next session and get rid of a rule that bars schools from using power purchase agreements in areas served by Appalachian Power.