Sigora Solar is partnering with Isle of Wight County Schools to install solar at seven county schools, making them some of first in the region to transition to clean, reliable energy while saving money and providing educational opportunities for students. Sigora signed a power purchasing agreement (PPA) to install solar at seven area schools, saving on overall energy costs with little to no upfront costs for Isle of Wight County.
The solar panels are projected to produce an estimated 4,252 megawatt hours of clean energy for the area, enough to meet 44 percent of the seven school’s combined energy needs. Construction will begin in January 2021 and is expected to be completed by Fall 2021.
Additionally, the money saved by the PPA will be reinvested through much-needed projects such as buying additional laptops and supplies for students, supporting sports teams and after school programs, and offering field trips and other learning experiences.
“This agreement is unique, allowing the schools to purchase power at a cheaper rate,” said Julie Ungerleider, Sigora’s Chief Operating Officer. “Isle of Wight County Schools, above all, care about student engagement and happiness. Our PPA opens new doors by allowing the school to allocate the cost savings from going solar to supporting student success.”
“Sigora presented a plan that was extremely beneficial to our division, cost effective, and aligned with our vision to help the environment, save money, and provide an outstanding educational experience for our students,” says division Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton. “We chose Sigora because of their track record, their commitment to clean energy, and their commitment to education. It’s a perfect partnership.”
How it happened: The Isle of Wight Schools Solar Project was made possible through legislation passed by the Virginia General Assembly this past session. Local legislators Senator Louise Lucas and Delegate Rosalyn Tyler voted for the Virginia Clean Economy Act. Senator Tommy Norment, Senator John Cosgrove, and Delegate Emily Brewer are also strong supporters of Isle of Wight County Schools.
When it came to choosing an installer, Isle of Wight wanted a partner who could match the schools’ enthusiasm and desire to empower their students to be a part of a positive change. “Our school district does their research to make sure they find a reputable company that’s going to do the best,” says Smithfield Middle School Principal, Matt Johnson.
For the past three years, Sigora Solar’s Commercial sector has doubled its installation capacity and is forecasted to do so again in 2021 because of large-scale public projects like Isle of Wight County Schools. “I think Isle of Wight County Schools recognized an experienced solar company that doesn’t simply look at this as another project, but more of a partnership and a relationship where we can help them accomplish their goals by utilizing our knowledge and our experience within the industry,” said Ungerleider.
The project is a “win-win” for the county according to Johnson. “Financially, you will save on the energy costs which will go right back into the classroom for the kids.” Principals of the participating schools in the area also see the installation as a unique opportunity for students to learn about a new technology and take part in combating climate change. “We’re all about deeper learning and those lifelong experiences for kids,” said Johnson. “We want to do something different in Isle of Wight County Schools.”
— Solar Builder magazine