Education Costs: Re-Energizing Schools with Solar Energy
Education and energy costs—As a teacher, you’ve seen that look before; that blank stare at the board as you explain how to do division with fractions. As a parent, you know how difficult it is to get your kids to sit down and do their homework. We all know the opportunities that a good education can bring, but why does learning always seem like such a drag to kids?
Schools and teachers are doing all they can as they face continued budget cuts year after year, and it doesn’t look like this trend of shrinking educational budgets will be slowing any time soon.
Necessity Breeds Innovation
While some schools are fortunate enough to turn to new technology in their classrooms to keep their students engaged, others must resort to cutting extracurricular programs or shortening the school year. But there is one set of expenses most schools consider untouchable or at least unchangeable: their operating costs, or more specifically, their electricity costs.
Renewable energy solutions, such as solar panels and a proven lease agreement model, reduce and stabilize electricity costs for an extended period. You may be thinking that solar panels are very expensive, and only the most well-off schools could ever afford that. However, the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) model allows schools and school districts to pay $0 upfront costs for the equipment and hardware.
Customers who sign a PPA, in this case schools, agree to lease the selected solar provider space on their roof to install the solar system, and the solar provider takes care of designing the optimal system, installing the panels, and operating and maintaining them for the typical 20-year lifetime of the agreement. In return, schools agree to pay the solar provider for the clean, renewable electricity generated by the panels, just as if they were paying the utility company for their electricity.
Money for Our Schools Where it Belongs: In the Classroom
How does this ultimately save schools money? With a variety of tax incentives, rebates, and other credits, solar providers can charge lower electricity rates than a typical utility. Moreover, the signed PPA secures a steady, predictable electricity rate over the 20-year lifetime of the agreement, which could save a district hundreds of thousands of dollars over the term of the PPA and allow administrators to calculate their operating budget costs, at least for electricity.
With this solar solution, administrators can effectively increase their educational budgets from day one of their new solar system going on line, and town residents do not have to worry about increasing taxes for improved education. It means more money for administrators to give teachers the resources they need and better support for teachers to focus on their students. It means less money spent on simply keeping the lights on and more money turning on light bulbs in students’ minds.
There is more than one way to re-ignite the spark for education.
Do you use solar power in your home? What do you like/dislike about it?
Samantha Go is the current Marketing Manager at SolSolution, a nonprofit social enterprise whose mission is to simultaneously generate clean, renewable electricity and increase the quality of education in underprivileged schools.
If you are interested in learning more about your school going solar, feel free to contact Samantha and SolSolution through their contact page on their website. Whether you’re a superintendent, teacher, or parent, they look forward to helping your community re-energize its schools.
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