School District 51 Hopes to Save with Solar
KREX News Room
Grand Junction - There's a ray of hope for a dwindling local school budget. School District 51 is giving us a better idea of what adding solar panels to their schools could mean for taxpayers. The first phase of the project could save nearly $20,000, but that number is expected to rise to $100,000 or more a year.
It may not look like much now, but the roof of Dual Immersion Academy is part of a larger plan to save the district money.
"We're going to start installing photovoltaic panels," explained Eric Anderson, Energy Manager with School District 51.
He says the first phase of the project would put solar panels on Dual Immersion's roof and the Career Center's roof, both in Grand Junction. Anderson estimates the panels in the first phase could save the district between $17,000 and $18,000.
"This is savings against those bills with no capital investment," said Anderson.
The other phases would add panels for five more schools within the district. The work is being done by Grand Junction's High Noon Solar.
"We install solar systems that will offset anywhere from 20% to 100% of the schools' loads," explained Heidi Ihrke, owner of High Noon Solar.
The company gets rebates from energy companies and works out a rate with customers.
"They still get the benefits from the solar system, but they don't have to make any investment, so it's great for taxpayers. They start seeing savings immediately," said Ihrke.
And Anderson says the project benefits more than the general public.
"We see it as a win-win," said Anderson, "not only for ourselves but for the solar industry in a our community as a whole."
The District 51 school board members will vote on the plan Tuesday night. If it gets the green light, district officials hope to install the solar panels by the end of the year.