Provided by PWCS
Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) will install solar power systems at 12 schools thanks to a partnership with Secure Solar Futures, a provider of on-site clean energy and educational programs to K-12 schools.
“The schools will showcase solar power systems right on location. That will send a powerful message to students that they don’t have to wait for the clean energy economy to arrive in the future. It’s already here,” said Ryan McAllister, CEO of Secure Solar Futures … “[Going] solar makes Prince William County Schools a national leader on clean energy and sustainability.”
The school sites to receive solar power include three high schools: Battlefield, Freedom, and Gainesville. Additionally, Beville and Potomac Shores Middle Schools and seven elementary schools will receive solar panels: Chris Yung, Covington-Harper, John D. Jenkins, Kilby, Kyle Wilson, Leesylvania, and Minnieville.
All 12 solar arrays at PWCS will be installed on roofs of school buildings. Installation will begin this spring and is expected to conclude by the end of 2023. Once the solar power systems are completed, PWCS will produce enough clean energy to power the equivalent of 779 homes and avoid 4,005 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.
The schools will receive solar power with no upfront capital investment through a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Secure Solar Futures. The company will own and operate all solar equipment and sell the power to schools at a rate lower than the local electric utility during the agreement term. The combined solar arrays will save the division an estimated $16 million in energy costs over the next 25 years.
Jennifer Rokasky, a PWCS energy and sustainability team member and project lead for Solar PPA, said, “I’m thrilled that we are bringing solar power to [PWCS]. Not only will this help the school division save money, but it will help move PWCS away from nonrenewable energy sources and toward reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.”
On-site solar provides the schools a new opportunity to bring clean energy education into the classroom. In partnership with National Energy Education Development (NEED), a non-profit organization that promotes energy literacy, Secure Solar offers a classroom curriculum that aligns with Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) from grades K-12. The curriculum includes teacher training, lesson plans, and hands-on kits for science experiments on energy.
In addition, Secure Solar offers its unique program in citizen science, Throwing Solar Shade® (TSS). Developed in conjunction with the Science Museum of Virginia and the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Education, TSS gives high school students the chance to spend a semester working in teams with students from other school divisions across Virginia. Under the direction of a leading climatologist, Dr. Jeremy Hoffman, chief scientist at the Science Museum, students conduct live research to investigate the heat-island effect, solar power, and other topics in clean energy and climate science.
The partnership between PWCS and Solar Futures continues to ensure the fulfillment of PWCS’ commitment to sustainability, the environment, environmental literacy, and reducing the carbon footprint.