Solar panels will be installed on 12 Prince William County Public Schools starting this spring.
Staunton-based Secure Solar Futures, a company that provides solar energy to schools, hospitals, and businesses, signed an agreement with the school system to provide the solar arrays.
The school system will receive the solar power with no upfront capital investment through a 25-year service agreement. Secure Solar Futures will own and operate the equipment and sell the power back to the schools at a lower rate than an electric utility, a news release said.
Because of the costs and maintenance involved with solar panels, service agreements of this type are the most common way that school systems add solar energy, says Erik Curren, marketing director for Secure Solar Futures.
The solar systems will have a capacity of 7.9 megawatts. Secure Solar Futures said the move will save Prince William County Public Schools $16 million in energy costs over the next 25 years.
“The schools will showcase solar power systems right on location. That will send a powerful message to students that they don’t have to wait for the clean energy economy to arrive in the future. It’s already here,” said Ryan McAllister, CEO of Secure Solar Futures, in the release.
The solar arrays will be installed on the roofs of the following schools:
- Battlefield High School
- Freedom High School
- Gainesville High School
- Beville Middle School
- Potomac Shores Middle School
- Chris Yung Elementary School
- Covington-Harper Elementary School
- Jenkins Elementary School
- Kilby Elementary School
- Kyle Wilson Elementary School
- Leesylvania Elementary School
- Minnieville Elementary School
The installation is expected to be complete by the end of the year.
“I’m thrilled that we are bringing solar power to Prince William County Schools. Not only will this help the school division save money, but it will help move PWCS away from nonrenewable energy sources and toward reducing our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Jennifer Rokasky, energy manager for PWCPS and the project lead for the solar power purchase agreement, in the release.
Heliene in Mountain Iron, Minnesota, will manufacture the panels.
Once the modules are all operating, the school system will produce “enough clean energy to power the equivalent of 877 homes and avoid 4,507 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the same amount sequestered by 5,333 acres of forest,” Secure Solar Futures said.
The company will offer a clean energy classroom curriculum to the school system that complies with the Standards of Learning and provides teacher training, lesson plans, and hands-on science experiments.
The school district and solar firm signed the agreement on December 28, 2022. The school board approved the deal on June 15, 2022.
The company has agreements with several other Virginia school systems, including Richmond Public Schools and Waynesboro Public Schools.
Feature image courtesy Steve Ninge/Secure Solar Futures
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