Solar Mounting System

New report finds solar on Pennsylvania K-12 schools has tripled in last decade



New report finds solar on Pennsylvania K-12 schools has tripled in last decade

New report finds solar on Pennsylvania K-12 schools has tripled in last decade
April 16, 2024

In the last 10 years, Pennsylvania K-12 schools have nearly tripled the amount of solar installed, according to a new statewide report on schools’ solar uptake published by Generation180, a clean energy nonprofit. The solar capacity installed at statewide schools over the past 10 years grew from 14 MW to approximately 39 MW.


The new report, “Powering a Brighter Future in Pennsylvania, Second Edition,” examines the state of solar at K-12 schools, including how schools are funding it, and local success stories. While a growing number of schools have seen the benefits of solar adoption, less than 2% of Pennsylvania’s 6,000 K-12 schools produce their own solar power, leaving a lot of potential for growth.


“All schools and communities in Pennsylvania — regardless of their size, geography or wealth — should have access to clean and affordable power,” said Shannon Crooker, Generation180’s Pennsylvania State Director. “We are helping schools across the state gain the cost-saving and educational benefits from generating their own clean power.” Generation180 provides free technical assistance to schools interested in exploring how solar energy would benefit them.


A featured case study in the report, Steelton-Highspire School District (SHSD) saved $10 million in energy costs and helped balance the district budget after switching to solar power and making energy efficiency improvements. The district’s 1.7-MW solar array provides 100% of the district’s electricity needs and is expected to provide $4 million in energy savings over the next two decades.


“Our primary goal is to get more funding to offset our expenses, which allows for more programming for our students. Through the addition of a 1.7-MW solar array and our newest project of six electric school buses, our school district can now claim that our electric expenses are offset 100% by solar energy, and our bussing transportation is 100% electric. Due to these two clean energy initiatives, our school district is able to provide more programming and support directly into the classroom,” said SHSD Superintendent Dr. Mick Iskric, Jr.


The report found that state funding programs have played an important role in bringing down the cost of solar energy systems and expanding access for Pennsylvania schools. According to Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection data, state funding programs provided grants or low-interest loans for solar projects at 53 schools, which is close to half of the 114 statewide K-12 schools using solar energy.


Although state funding programs have played an important role in supporting new solar projects at schools in the past, there has not been a consistent source of state funding for Pennsylvania schools in recent years. In 2023, Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler introduced the Solar for Schools Act (HB1032) to establish the first state program dedicated to providing funding for schools to install solar energy systems. Eligible schools would include public school districts, career and technical schools, and community colleges.


“The Solar for Schools grant program would represent a win-win-win-win-win for the state. It would help jumpstart Pennsylvania’s clean energy field by creating new solar jobs, slash schools’ huge utility bills, generate revenue for much-needed infrastructure upgrades, prevent municipalities from having to raise local property taxes, and facilitate STEM and training educational opportunities for students,” said Rep. Fiedler.


New state funding programs could be combined with federal funding opportunities created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that help schools pay for solar energy projects and other energy upgrades.


“There has never been a better time for Pennsylvania’s schools to pursue solar energy,” said Matt Barron, Program Director for Sustainability at The Heinz Endowments in Pittsburgh. “The federal, state, and local incentives and technical assistance opportunities paired with philanthropic initiatives and support make it possible for most schools to add solar at no cost out of pocket and to begin realizing savings after just a few years. The Heinz Endowments believes that all of our kids deserve safe, clean, resilient places to learn and grow and we are here to help.”top solar mounting products


While there has been statewide growth in solar energy production by schools, it has not been even across the state. Northern and western Pennsylvania have lagged in solar adoption, but that is starting to change. The Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center (GJCTC), a regional workforce training hub serving seven school districts, just became the first school in western Pennsylvania to power 100% of its electricity use with onsite solar energy. Solar and energy conservation measures are expected to generate $19 million in energy savings over 25 years for the seven districts.


Thank you for visiting Sendsheen - SOLAR MOUNTING SYSTEM. We truly appreciate in your interest in our products. If you would like to know more details, kindly please feel free to contact us.