Solar arrays at four more schools in Augusta County, Virginia, are now complete and operational, bringing additional renewable energy to the Augusta County Public School (ACPS) system. The combined one-megawatt (MW) solar project on the four schools, originally spearheaded by two local high school students, was financed by Standard Solar, Inc, a leading solar energy company. The system is expected to generate an average of 30 percent of the energy used by the schools.
The arrays, on the rooftops of Riverheads Elementary School, Riverheads High School, Wilson Elementary School and Wilson Middle School, are now generating power as the result of a strong project collaboration between ACPS, Dominion Energy, Secure Futures and Standard Solar.
Secure Futures developed the project and provided the county with curriculum about solar energy that matches up with the state’s Standards of Learning. Standard Solar funded the project, which includes related educational opportunities for Secure Futures, and is responsible for long term system operation and maintenance, further minimizing the school district’s costs.
“Standard Solar is proud to provide funding for school districts like ACPS, counties, and colleges and universities that have begun to utilize renewables but need to do so without utilizing capital budgets,” said John Finnerty, Standard Solar. “We also commend Virginia Governor Northam’s recent Executive Order directing a pathway to 100% carbon free power and positioning the commonwealth for continued economic and community growth.”
ACPS will save on their energy costs over the next 20 years by using solar energy, and the project didn’t require any up-front costs from the county. ACPS currently has 10,500 students enrolled in 18 schools.
“Standard Solar congratulates ACPS, Dominion Energy and Secure Futures with achieving the final system approvals for the onsite solar electricity generation, improving the school facilities and enhancing learning opportunities for decades to come,” added Finnerty.
“With the largest solar power system at any school division in Virginia, Augusta County Schools is showing leadership that’s financial, environmental and educational,” said Anthony Smith, CEO of Secure Futures. “Using their own solar power, the schools will save nearly $500,000 over the next two decades, while making a positive contribution to Virginia’s clean energy mix and offering students hands-on learning opportunities in a 21st century industry.”
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association’s most recent data (Q2 2019), Virginia is the 18th largest solar state in the U.S., with 802.75 MW of solar installed. The state’s solar industry currently employs 3,890 workers and its solar growth projection and ranking exceed 2,900 MW over the next 5 years (ranks 7th).
— Solar Builder magazine