School solar installation in Minnesota | Photo by IPS Solar

Solar Possible: New joint purchasing effort for agencies, local governments & schools

Recent publications point out that clean energy and schools might be the best combination since the first peanut butter and jelly sandwich made it into a school lunchbox!

But seriously, utility spending in our nation’s schools is no laughing matter. According to the blog Meeting of the Minds, schools spend over $8 billion annually on energy, more than textbooks and computers combined.

Why save energy and go solar?

Schools in Minnesota can get a great understanding of their electrical consumption by first, participating in B3 Benchmarking, an online tool that tracks energy use and provides accurate comparisons to similar facilities. Second, schools can participate in the Department of Commerce’s Local Energy Efficiency Program (LEEP) that assists local governments and schools with completing a comprehensive energy audit that point out opportunities for energy conservation along with expected payback.

Many schools are moving forward with conservation measures along with utilizing renewable energy. Why? Three reasons stand out:

  1. First, using the power of the sun can save money. Just ask Mounds View School District which installed solar on 13 buildings and will reduce energy costs by $2 million over the next 25 years.
  2. Second, schools are wrapping their solar array into their curriculum, particularly as it relates to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education.
  3. Third, generating electricity is a significant contributor to greenhouse gases. Going solar helps schools meet their goals to lessen their environmental footprint.

A Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools highlights these advantages and more. It notes that over 5,500 schools have solar arrays, with the average school solar system being 300kW. Most are on the roof; however, others can be ground mounted or shading parking lots as carports. The report catalogs school solar projects, with schools having the ability to add themselves to an interactive map.

Introducing: Solar Possible

CERTs is working hard at growing the number of Minnesota schools using clean energy. To that end, CERTs is kicking off “Solar Possible,” a cooperative purchasing effort to facilitate more state agencies, local governments, and schools using solar on their facilities.

Collaborative procurement is an effective approach to reduce barriers, learn together, and drive projects to successful completion. This initial effort will be geared toward jurisdictions in Xcel Energy territory.

What: Solar Possible Kick-Off Event
Where: Falcon Heights City Hall – 2077 Larpenteur Avenue W., Falcon Heights
When: March 14, 2018; 9:00-11:00am
Registration: Register here to attend in person or call 612-626-0555
Webinar Option: Click here to register for the webinar if you can’t attend in person

Attendees will learn more about the opportunity being proposed; how to participate; expected benefits and challenges; and next steps for interested local governments and schools.

So while spring break is upon us in Minnesota and students are getting ready for some time away from the rigors of the classroom, many school officials are studying hard to make their schools ready for clean energy.


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