Schools Nationwide Turn to Solar Energy
With the falling prices of solar modules and government incentives, more and more schools, from grade schools to colleges, are turning to solar energy to reduce their energy bills.
From Maryland to California, schools have and are installing solar power panels on their campuses. Mount Saint Mary's University in Maryland, for instance, has leased part of its land, which will be used to install a 16.1-megawatt solar power project and which will provide the state and the university with solar energy. Western Nevada College, in Nevada, will install a 200-kilowatt system on campus; the system will save the college $28,000 each year and is provided to the school at no up-front costs due to a leasing agreement. Finally, SolarCity is installing 6,000 Solar Panels in Chico Unified School District schools in Chico, California. The 1.6-megawatt system will offset up to 85% of the School District's electricity use, and, like in Western Nevada College, the system is provided to the schools at no upfront cost, made possible with a twenty-year power purchasing agreement.
Solar leasing is becoming increasingly popular as more solar companies offer it as an alternative to funding solar panel installations. Under leasing agreements, the most common is a power-purchasing agreement, in which customers agree to buy the power produced from the solar arrays installed at a fixed rate over twenty years, typically below current utility rates. These agreements are targeted to customers who do not have the means to provide upfront capital. They are also attractive because of the low and long-term fixed rate of electricity. Solar leasing is particularly beneficial to schools because it makes solar energy a viable option.