Category Archives: Solar Schools

Model for Nebraska: Investment in solar grows dramatically in Minnesota’s K-12 schools

Written by Frank Jossi, Midwest Energy News

The largest solar project ever built to serve a Minnesota school district began producing energy last week. The Farmington public school district’s 3.1 megawatt (MW) project places photovoltaic panels on the rooftops of several buildings. The first project to go live is the 715 kilowatt, 2,200 panel installation on the roof of Dodge Middle School, with more buildings to follow. Once fully completed next year, the project will be one of the biggest rooftop solar photovoltaic installations ever built in Minnesota by a government entity. Read more here.

Photo by Farmington Area Public Schools

As in Minnesota, Nebraska K-12 schools, colleges and universities have the option of investing in solar through third-party financing, or in some communities such as Kearney, subscribing to a community solar development.

Model for Nebraska: Solar4Schools, which Frank Jossi references in his article, is a program created by IPS Solar that, for over a decade, has installed PV arrays at a number of Minnesota K-12 schools as well as colleges and universities. These include: Macalester College, Northland College, St Johns University, St Olaf College, University of Minnesota and University of St Thomas.

How Schools Are Going Solar

By Erika Celeste, Voice of America News

FREMONT, INDIANA: The residents of this small town in America’s upper Midwest have always relied on the sun to warm their fields and draw tourists to their lakes. Now school superintendent William Stitt said they’re counting on it to power their schools. “The technology has advanced so much in the last couple of years that it’s become more energy efficient, more cost effective for schools to get solar energy,” Stitt said. Construction of the solar project will cost $3 million. But when finished, it will completely power the elementary, middle and high school buildings. It may generate so much electricity, that the school will be able to sell some back to the power company at a profit.
Read more.

Omaha-based GRNE Solutions awarded nearly $1.5 million contract in Indiana school district’s solar project

Melanie Csepiga, Northwest Indiana Times

LOWELL — The Tri-Creek School Board has moved on its long-anticipated solar energy project, awarding contracts for the installation of solar panel arrays at four of the district’s five schools. Midwest Wind & Solar of Griffith working with South Bend-based Inovateus won the contract for Oak Hill, Lake Prairie and Three Creeks elementary school installations with bids not to exceed $543,463, $525,423, and $454,757, respectively. GRNE Solutions’ bid of $1,462,649 earned the Omaha, Nebraska company the Lowell Middle School part of the project. Continue reading.

Tri-Creek School Board advances solar project
Lowell Middle School, 19250 Cline Ave., already is home to solar panel arrays which were used as an outdoor classroom during the installation. The panels offset energy costs at the school and the transportation building adjacent to Lowell Middle School. Superintendent Debra Howe has said the hope is to get totally off the grid and be self-sustaining.

Energy Department Launches Zero Energy Schools Accelerator



As a part of the Obama Administration’s effort to cut energy waste in America’s buildings, today the Energy Department launched the Better Buildings Zero Energy Schools Accelerator. Six school districts, two states and several national organizations are working collaboratively to develop zero energy design that is cost-competitive to conventional construction in the education sector and in local communities across the nation.  A Zero Energy Building is an energy-efficient building, where on a source energy basis, the actual delivered energy is less than or equal to the onsite renewable exported energy.

In conjunction with the launch, Energy Department officials joined other key stakeholders today to tour Discovery Elementary School, a Zero Energy school located near the nation’s capital in Arlington, Virginia, which officially opened its doors in September 2015. Discovery’s engineering team expects to offset its energy usage with renewable energy and to potentially save about $75,000 within its first year of operation. Discovery Elementary is one of 40 emerging Zero Energy ready schools in the U.S., and was built with advanced next generation energy efficiency and renewable power features, including solar rooftop and geothermal heating and cooling systems. 

Click here for additional details, including a list of the first participating school districts.

Photo: Discovery Elementary, a zero energy school in Arlington, Virginia

Nebraska Solar Schools Launches Adopt-A-School Program

blackrocksolar-rainshadowNebraska Solar Schools launched the Adopt-A-School Program last week at the Nebraska Association of Teachers of Science (NATS) Fall Conference. The Adopt-A-School Program is for Nebraska educators at public and non-public schools, as well as places like schools, who are interested in collaborating with potential funders to install a photovoltaic (PV) system at their school and/or purchase solar energy kits, books and other educational materials.

The Adopt-A-School Program also seeks funding partners: philanthropists, foundations, and businesses interested in collaborating with a Nebraska school or a place like a school that wants to “go solar.” For more information, visit:

Photo Courtesy of Black Rock Solar

4 reasons net-zero energy should start with schools

By Kelly Vaughn, Green Biz


Current discussions on how to improve education have focused on better teachers, better technology and more funding (which deepens the debate on who should pay for it). But consider that each year K–12 schools spend more than $8 billion on energy — more than they spend on computers and textbooks combined. Too commonly overlooked is the opportunity to cost-effectively improve our nation’s schools and enhance student performance by tackling the performance of the very buildings in which children, faculty and staff spend more than eight hours each day. With energy costs averaging about $300 per student per year, cash-strapped districts have found improving energy performance as the best way to lower operating and maintenance costs. Click to read more

Photo: Schools that integrate solar panels onto their campuses can teach valuable hands-on lessons to students about physics, technology and global stewardship. Credit: Shutterstock / pisaphotography

The enormous scale of all the energy that we never used, by Chris Mooney, The Washington Post
Click here to download the new American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (AEEE) Report that Mooney references in his article: The Greatest Energy Story You Haven’t Heard: How Investing in Energy Efficiency Changed the US Power Sector and Gave Us a Tool to Tackle Climate Change

4 Minnesota schools get solar panels

By Deanna Weniger, Grand Forks Herald

Solar energy panels

Four Farmington, Minn., schools should have solar panels on their roofs by the end of September.The school board on Monday approved a contract with Edina-based Sundial Solar Energy to put solar panels on Boeckman and Dodge middle schools and Riverview and Farmington elementary schools. The district currently pays a $976,000 annual electricity bill. Once the arrays are up and running, Sundial Solar estimates the the district could save about $74,250 in energy costs after expenses in the first year. They could save up to $2.7 million over the length of the 25-year contract. They could save a lot more if, by year seven, they choose to buy out their investor. Continue reading.

Photo by vencavolrab /

Pope’s Global Call for Solar Catholic Schools is Laudato Si’ in Action

Post written by Eden Keeper


Pope Francis tirelessly addresses climate change and global warming at international forums in Rome and around the globe. With this new initiative, the Vatican is enthusiastic, recognizing a global movement and effective means of implementing Pope Francis’ renowned encyclical, Laudato Si’, or Praised Be: On Care for Our Common Home . . . Confirming the untapped potential for solar schools in the US, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reports, “While thousands of schools have already realized the cost savings and other benefits of installed solar energy capacity, this opportunity is generally underutilized.” Click to read more.

Image:  31 solarized catholic schools in Townsville, AU, are now saving $250,000 a year. Credit:

Wisconsin school largest solar electricity producer among the state’s K-12 schools

By Kayla Barnes, Republican Journal Editor. Posted on SW News 4UDarlington School

The project was initiated by a group of students, community leaders, school board members and staff that served as a think tank for creating a 21st century learning environment across the district. For more information and to see a live kiosk link to the solar panels, go to the school’s website and under “District”, click the “Solar Project” link. Read more.

Direct Link to Darlington School’s Solar Project  

Michigan high school student’s senior science project: Raising funds to install a 7-kilowatt PV system at his school

By Kyle Kaminski, Record-Eagle


TRAVERSE CITY — Not all high school science projects come with a $25,000 price tag. Senior Caleb Brown admits his idea to install solar panels at Northport Public School is ambitious. The required paperwork and permits alone is bewildering. But when he tacked on the thousands of dollars needed to get the senior project off the ground — the concept seemed unfathomable.
“Once in the middle of the year, I was starting to think I didn’t know how I was going to raise all this money,” Brown said. Continue reading.

Photo: Record-Eagle. Northport Public School senior Caleb Brown said that his solar array project will be complete by mid-summer.