Orange County Public Schools (Virginia) has signed an agreement with Secure Futures Solar of Staunton, Virginia, to install and operate solar panels at eight facilities across the school division. Together, solar arrays will generate a total capacity of 2.5 MW of power, providing nearly half of the total electricity for the facilities while generating enough clean energy to run the equivalent of 400 average homes.
In addition to the planned solar panels, three school campuses have received roof restoration to make them ready to hold solar arrays. Restoration work allows the facilities to avoid replacing their roofs, which would have been required in the next few years whether they got solar panels or not. The school division will receive $11.5 million in economic benefits from avoided costs for roof replacements and reduced demand for utility power over the next 25 years.
“Orange County Public Schools is fortunate to engage in forward-thinking about fiscally responsible energy consumption while also providing a rich learning opportunity for the students,” said Cecil Snead, OCPS Superintendent of Schools. “I am excited about the myriad of possibilities that this partnership affords us as a school system.”
Orange County Public Schools will receive solar energy equipment and complete roof restoration work at no upfront capital cost through a 25-year “Solar Self Generation Agreement” with Secure Futures. Over that term, the company will operate and maintain the solar energy system, providing the capacity for the schools to generate electricity at a cost lower than typically available from the local electric utility.
“Orange County Schools is leading the way in sustainability that’s both environmental and financial,” said Anthony Smith, president and CEO of Secure Futures. “Rooftop solar will cut their electric bills while roof restoration will free up capital for other vital school improvements, thus providing relief to taxpayers while offering curriculum enhancements that will inspire students and teachers for years.”
A total of eight solar arrays will be installed at seven different campuses and facilities. Two arrays will be installed at Orange County High School, one array on the main building and another array on the field house. Then, one solar array will be installed at each of six other facilities: the Taylor Education Administration Complex, Prospect Heights Middle School, Orange Elementary School, Locust Grove Primary School, Locust Grove Elementary School and Locust Grove Middle School.
With a capacity of 945 kW, the solar panels installed at Locust Grove Middle School will be among the largest solar arrays placed on a rooftop in the state of Virginia and will generate approximately 90% of the electricity required by the school during the course of the year.
The decision to add solar power is consistent with the commitment of Orange County Schools to green improvements that save money, including installation of energy-efficient lighting, replacing windows in all older schools and improved HVAC controls and equipment.