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How to go solar K-12 School Districts, Colleges and Universities!!!

A brief how to guide on producing solar green energy on site.  The cost saving, some green footprint facts, and reason over 5,489 institutions have already made the switch…

With a 70% decline in solar installation costs leading to rapid and steady growth of the solar industry over the last decade.

Over 5,489 K-12 schools have already gone solar across the United States.

Schools and solar are a perfect match. This is no longer just a theory either, with 5,489 K-12 schools in the United States now using solar energy — a number nearly double the total solar capacity that was installed at schools in 2014, according to a major new report by The Solar Foundation, Generation 180, and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Exciting news for K-12 school boards and districts seeking to provide a multitudes of benefits of solar to their students, secure short and long-term energy savings through on-site solar energy system installation.

Why are School districts are going solar?

Tens of thousands of dollars in annual electricity cost savings helping stretch constrained budgets

True example of good environmental stewardship for their students

Valuable STEM “Science, Technology, Engineering and Math” learning opportunities enhancing school curriculums for students with a solar energy array systems on site as an example project

Guide information about the installation process, savings, financing options and other benefits of school solar projects for school administrators, board members, and facility managers.

How much can a school or higher learning institution save by going solar?

Your school’s electricity cost savings will depend on several factors. Solar will typically offset between 60% and 85% of a school’s electric load. For a standard 1000-student school, this equates to annual savings ranging from $20,000 – $28,000. For multiple schools in a district, the size of the system and the savings are, of course, much greater.

Long-term financing for solar, with fixed energy rates that are less expensive than their local utility’s rates provide consistent utility savings over the next 20 to 25 years also factor into the $28,000 example given above.

How to finance solar projects in your school district or higher learning institutions.

The elephant in the room for Non-Profits and tax-exempt customers is they do not pay taxes and therefore do not qualify for the federal government’s solar tax credits and other tax incentives.

The majority of school solar projects are financed through a “PPA” or solar power-purchase agreement allowing a third-party financier to own and manage the solar system, the for-profit company funds the installation allowing them to take advantage available tax incentives. Schools indirectly take advantage available tax incentives, with this model.

Win-win, the PPA company recoups its investment over a 20 to 25-year energy contract with the school. The finance company pays for the entire installation and design of the solar renewable energy system with little or no upfront costs to the school. The school gets immediate savings on its electric bill by paying the PPA company a lower solar kilowatt-hour electric rate than its normal utility rate.

Schools may also decide to own their system through municipal bonds or capital improvement budgets instead of the PPA model. Ownership typically provides greater long-term energy savings than a PPA, but the school will have to fund the upfront costs along maintenance for 20 to 25 years. Upside is solar is rather low maintenance and most of the equipment is backed with a manufacturer’s warranty.

Instead of a PPA, school districts may decide to own their system through municipal bonds or capital improvement budgets. While ownership can typically provide greater long-term energy savings than a PPA, the district will need to be able to fund the upfront costs along with 20 to 25 years of maintenance.

Schools may also decide to own their system through municipal bonds or capital improvement budgets instead of the PPA model. Ownership typically provides greater long-term energy savings than a PPA, but the school will have to fund the upfront costs along with 20 to 25 years of maintenance. Upside is solar is rather low maintenance and most of the equipment is backed with a manufacturer’s warranty.

State-specific incentives and grants may also be available for solar projects, and SREC programs. Consult with KW Solar Solutions, Inc on cost of installation and the types of financing that is best for your budget. We work with four lenders that offer a PPA, if the school decides to own the system, we can calculate the payback time and ROI. We provide NABCEP certified solar system design and installation. The NABCEP certification is tied to qualifying for grants. We give estimates on solar energy cost savings based on the school’s previous energy consumption. We can calculate the payback time, ROI and provide data on the positive environmental impact by offsetting CO2 emissions by switching to renewable energy rather than burning fossil fuels to produce energy. 

What is the process of installing solar at schools?

The Process of installing solar at your K-12 Public or Private School, College or University.

Over the past sixteen years KW Solar has streamlined the installation process and changed with the times when it comes to equipment and best practices. Working with an experienced school solar contractor we have helped in the development and installations of several projects. We explain the solar equipment, provide guidance on financing options, and help seek grants that are available in your state or region.

We help schools determine the best site location for the solar arrays factoring in roof space or open land for school that have enough land available?

If a school roof will be considered, what is the status of the roof warranty? Is the roof structurally able to hold the weight of a solar system? In some instances you can use the footprint of the solar array in conjunction with a grant, some financial institutions will work with the school or university and pay for some or all of the cost associated with a new roof or repairs as an incentive to go solar as well as the school’s electrical infrastructure if it require an upgrades to support solar.

Vetting these issues early in the process can streamline the solar feasibility process.

Some of the local projects we have been involved with schools & higher learning institutions.

Washington College Chestertown, MD 89.16 kW College

Hockessin Library Hockessin, DE 50.04 kW Municipal

Relay Elementary School Halethorpe, MD 17.01 kW School

Del Tech Community College Stanton, DE 14.4 kW College

DE Center for Horticulture Wilmington, DE 10.542 kW Non-Profit

Brandywine School Wilmington, DE 10.00 kW School

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