Solar energy for schools is a no-brainer: power your facilities with cheap, clean energy while you teach your students the value of sustainability? It’s a win-win. The cost savings of installing solar for schools are immense, with most systems having an ROI of about five to seven years before producing pure profit.
Some schools have come up with a creative way to reallocate the funds they previously set aside for electric bills. Now, one school in Arkansas is using the savings from their solar panel installation to increase teachers’ salaries.
Rewarding Teachers Through Solar Energy
The Batesville School District in Batesville, Arkansas began the process of transitioning to solar energy in 2017. This was a surprising choice given the city is only 17 miles from the state’s largest coal-fired power plant. The five schools serve over 3,000 students, and the cost to power all those schools and district facilities wasn’t cheap – the district was paying over $600,000 a year for power.
Michael Hester, the Batesville superintendent, said the district’s high power bills were reason enough to move forward with an energy efficiency project. “Let’s use that money to start pumping up teachers’ salaries,” Hester said in an interview. “It’s the way we’re going to attract and retain staff. And it’s the way we’re going to attract and retain students in this day and age of school choice.”
Many states have created solar grant programs for public schools, universities, and small businesses such as daycares. These grants, coupled with the Federal Investment Tax Credit – currently at 26% – mean that many schools will pay very little upfront for their new solar array and will see a quick return on investment.
Solar-Powered Schools Are Ahead of the Curve
Schools running on solar power show their commitment to clean energy and attract eco-conscious students. Solar for schools isn’t a new concept. A report by Generation 180, a nonprofit that advocates for clean energy, found that at least 7,300 schools across the United States are using solar to save on utilities, introduce students to renewable energy, and reduce harmful emissions. These schools are trailblazers in their communities – as was the case for the Batesville School District.
“There’s at least 20 school districts just in our area that have emulated our model,” Superintendent Hester said. “We have the numbers to prove and to show from performance that we’re walking the walk. That’s a slam-dunk for districts around us.”
Local solar companies have confirmed that the Batesville project — with the help of the recently adopted Solar Access Act — spurred a significant uptick in the number of nearby school districts considering solar. And residents of Batesville have been surprisingly supportive given their proximity to a coal-powered power plant; they appreciate the school district making the most of its tax dollars.
Solar Energy Installations for Minnesota Schools
Cedar Creek Energy is helping Minnesota schools lead the way in our state by switching to a sustainable solar energy system. Our team has worked on numerous smaller-scale solar projects for compact buildings and campuses; we have also installed solar panels for the Universities of St. Thomas and Minnesota, Morris. Whatever the size of your school’s campus and its amount of energy usage, a solar power installation from Cedar Creek Energy can successfully meet your energy needs and start saving you money. Meanwhile, your school can proudly display your newly installed solar panels to highlight your organization’s commitment to sustainability.
Our solar installers for schools will work with our project managers and engineers to design a comprehensive solar energy system that meets the needs of your school, big or small. Contact Cedar Creek Energy to discuss how your school can benefit from solar power!