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West Greene School District explores going solar

3 min read

Earlier this month, three state legislators visited West Greene School District to discuss the possibility of building a solar array on the campus.

State Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Beaver/Greene/Washington), and state Reps. Bud Cook (R-Washington/Greene), and Elizabeth Fiedler (D-Phila.), met with school officials, labor leaders and technical experts from the PA Solar Center to discuss locations, financing and workforce development options.

A solar array, which is a group of solar panels connected together to produce electricity, could reduce high, market-rate electricity costs and the federal Inflation Reduction Act would fund 30% to 50% of any renewable energy project. Fiedler’s Solar for Schools legislation (House Bill 1032), which passed the house in June of 2023 and is awaiting consideration in the state Senate, would additionally fund up to 50% of solar projects for Pennsylvania public schools.

“The cost of energy is huge. If we can alleviate that by using Solar for Schools and providing that wonderful resource with some federal funding, I think that is a win-win-win for all of us,” Bartolotta said.

“I commend West Greene School District officials for exploring solar as an option that may help save taxpayer dollars,” Cook said. “Now is the time to think outside the box when it comes to dealing with rising energy costs.”

Labor leaders expressed support for exploring a solar project at West Greene, including Kris Anderson, international representative for the IBEW Third District, and Steve Santucci, business agent for Laborers Local 1058, who both attended.

“Solar for Schools could be the boost we need to prepare the next generation of union workers for growing energy industries,” said Anderson. “Clean energy projects will require a highly skilled workforce, and the IBEW is ready to create hands-on training opportunities in school communities.”

Fiedler has toured several school districts across Pennsylvania to discuss the environmental, economic and financial benefits of solar energy. Most recently, she visited Carlisle Area School District, where Bellaire Elementary School is run 100% on solar energy. The cost of energy bills has been cut 14% districtwide thanks to its solar array.

Districts like West Greene are considering following suit and using Solar for Schools to leverage federal Inflation Reduction Act investments to save money.

“I’ve traveled to schools across the commonwealth to meet with school administrators, and the demand for solar is growing,” Fiedler said. “So many school districts are struggling, and when you explain the savings solar energy can bring, not many of them want to turn down potentially millions of dollars.”

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