Solar a Challenge for Schools

I recently learned more about the solar/microgrid project that was recently approved by the School Board. As I listened to the details presented by Laura Capps and Craig Lewis of the Clean Coalition, I began to appreciate what an accomplishment this is.

The district now has a firm plan to install solar arrays at 14 school campuses that will supply over 90 percent of the schools’ electrical needs, and to have battery storage onsite to form microgrids at six of the locations. The project will provide schools with a clean, reliable supply of electricity, and millions of dollars in savings over the life of the project.

On the face of it, it seems that a project like this would be relatively straightforward to get passed and approved. But that is hardly the case in the face of political and financial challenges that all special districts face. Schools and nonprofit organizations have never been able to enjoy the tax benefits that private sector and residential customers enjoy, and it has been all too easy to get despondent about this and set solar projects aside as a lower priority.

The district should be applauded for creating this impressive microgrid project. It is reassuring and rewarding to know that the kids attending these schools will have a direct view of what sustainable energy can look like. And with the fine teaching and education that comes with this, we have the right formula to help motivate and prepare them for the carbon-free world that they are growing into.

This transformational work takes time, perseverance, and commitment. But when change starts to happen in this way, it is truly satisfying for all to see, and a testament to those that strive for changes like this that improve the environment for our schools and communities. Thanks are due to the School Board for their unanimous vote to approve this, and to the Board leadership that made this happen!

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