SD 51 to Add Solar Paneling to Four Schools
KREX News Room
MESA COUNTY, Colo. - School District 51 has begun the second phase of an environmental project that could end up saving tax payers money.
A year ago, the school district installed solar panels on several facilities, which has lowered energy costs. That amounts to savings that officials say could trickle down to taxpayers' wallets.
"When this particular project is completed, 17 percent of our energy need will rooftop mounted solar panel systems," explained Eric Anderson, energy manager with School District 51.
District officials initially had solar panels installed at seven facilities:
Bookcliff Middle School
Grand mesa Middle School
Mount Garfield Middle School
Redlands Middle School
Rocky Mountain Elementary School
Dual Immersion Academy
"Most of the systems were designed to meet 100 percent of each school's energy need," said Anderson.
"It's becoming a lot more obvious that we need to find alternative sources of energy," added Jody Diers, principal at Central High School.
By adding four facilities this year, officials are putting the pieces in place to reduce costs in a district that's seen devastating budget blows in recent years.
The new facilities include:
Central High School
Grand Junction High School
Fruita Monument High School
Nisley Elementary School
"First year savings are estimated to be about $75,000 to our school district. Over the 20-year term of the contract, it's about $2.1 million," said Anderson.
Not to mention the benefits that are not quantifiable.
"One of our most popular classes is environmental studies and we talk to kids about what it is to be green. Eric Anderson will be out to work with some of our classes and teach them about solar energy. So we're going to hopefully get a lot of benefits out of this, not just reduction in costs of energy," said Diers.
The district hopes to one day have panels on as many facilities as possible. Buildings are chosen based on their space and structural integrity of the roof.