The University Park Elementary School will become the first Prince George’s County public school to host a rooftop solar array. The solar project, scheduled for completion later this month, is a partnership between the Town of University Park, Md., and the Prince George’s County Public School System. Standard Solar, Inc., a Maryland-based company specializing in solar electric systems, is carrying out the project.
The solar array will generate clean energy and also provide the town and PGCPS with a shared revenue stream of up to $18,000 annually from the sale of electricity and renewable energy tax credits.
“We are thrilled to see the solar panel project at University Park coming to fruition,” said Dr. Alvin L. Crawley, Interim Superintendent of Schools. “It has been a pleasure partnering with STEP and the Town of University Park throughout this process, and I am proud that one of our elementary schools was selected for this groundbreaking initiative.”
“The solar project is the culmination of two years of work with the school board, Pepco and numerous other stakeholders and volunteers, including our entire Town Council,” noted University Park Mayor John Tabori. He continued, “The installation is a terrific example of a successful public-private partnership that delivers multiple benefits to the community, and we are pleased to be part of it!”
The project is funded by a U.S. Department of Energy grant to the Town for the Small Town Energy Program (STEP). This means the solar panel array is fully paid for, from design and construction to maintenance and eventual removal at the end of its 25-year life, and that it will deliver clean energy and revenues at no cost to the Town or to PGCPS.
“This system represents an important milestone for the Town of University Park, and we are excited to play a role in helping the town reach its sustainability goals,” said Scott Wiater, President, Standard Solar. “University Park Elementary School is the first public school in Prince George’s County to go solar and the system will not only provide an economic benefit, but also an educational opportunity for the students.”
In addition to the energy and money savings, the solar project will indeed be used for educational activities linked to the county’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum. A web portal will enable students throughout the county to view the system performing in real time.
“This solar panel project will benefit both students and the community,” said Amber Waller, Board of Education Member for District 3. “Students will have ongoing opportunities to build their science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills while learning how this state-of-the-art solar energy project operates and reduces energy costs.”
Once completed, the 216-panel solar installation will contribute 85,000 kWh of clean electricity into the grid each year, enough to power nine homes, while also reducing by 60 tons the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that would have been created by a conventional power plant to produce the same amount of electricity. Over its anticipated quarter-century lifetime, the project will provide the equivalent amount of electricity needed to power 225 homes and reduce GHG emissions by 1,500 tons.
— Solar Builder magazine