Renewable Energy for Schools and Municipalities
When you install solar panels, you:
- produce your own electricity
- reduce your production of greenhouse gases
- generate invaluable learning opportunities for the students and adults in your district
Renewable energy is certainly the best choice from an environmental and ethical standpoint, and it makes sense economically as well.
- The price of photovoltaic (PV) systems and the cost to install them have decreased dramatically over the last few years.
- The pre-tax internal rate of return for solar energy over 25 years averages about 15 to 25 percent, making solar energy a safer and more lucrative investment vehicle than the stock market, bond market, money markets, and long-term CDs.
- Congress has extended the Federal Tax Credit for renewable energy, which takes an additional 30 percent off the net system price after rebates.
- At the regional level, 45 states offer financial incentives for solar PV and 42 states offer financial incentives for solar water heating.
- Of the states that offer incentives for solar projects, 27 offer loans, 28 offer property tax incentives, 26 offer direct cash incentives, 20 offer rebates, 20 offer sales tax incentives, and 21 offer tax credits.
With the wide range of incentives offered across the board, the likelihood that the school district or municipality will be able to take advantage of savings in a number of categories is high. Learn more about state and federal incentives at the online Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.
Also noteworthy – if the school or municipality takes advantage of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), they can install a solar panel system without an upfront capital investment. What they need to know:
- PPAs are authorized or allowed by at least 15 states.
- In a PPA, a solar power company or other third party provides the capital to install the solar system and then receives the rebates and credits offered by the local utility and the state.
- You buy all or most of your electricity from the solar company or third party, which results in significant savings on the more than $6 billion that K-12 schools spend on nonrenewable energy each year.
The end result is little to no cost for the school and an abundance of energy and education that will continue on for generations to come.
Going solar also inspires communities to respect and preserve our environment and learn about the bright future of renewable energy. Most schools include a live data feed so that students and teachers can see how much electricity their systems are creating, count the savings of solar energy, and analyze the effects of its cost efficiencies. Students learn how their everyday actions can positively impact the environment, which transforms the school into a hands-on science laboratory and makes learning applicable and fun.