This year, administrators at Monticello High School are seeing results from a solar energy project done in the summer of 2016. Solar infrastructure was installed at six schools throughout Albemarle County for a total of over 1.1 megawatts of capacity.
A press release from October of 2016 shows how the project factors into Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s “Energy in the New Virginia Economy” plan, which contemplates the use of solar to drive green business in the state.
“Today’s installation is the perfect venue to formally unveil an update on the progress we are making toward ensuring Virginia is a leader in the global energy economy,” McAuliffe said at an October 2016 ribbon-cutting for the school project. “The clean energy sector has been a central part of our efforts to build a new Virginia economy and that effort has paid off as revenue in the sector has grown four-fold to $2 billion. The Albemarle County Public Schools project embodies the countless benefits of growing the clean industry, such as lower energy bills and carbon emissions, more education for our students, and economic activity for our local businesses.”
However, before this project was the apple of the Governor’s eye, it was a grass-roots proposal from the high school students themselves.
An article in VASUN: Virginia Solar United Neighborhoods shows some of the background — in 2014, Monticello High School students wrote a letter to the school board, recommending the adoption of solar installations.
“Student concerns drove the decision-making process,” School Board member Stephen Koleszar said, adding that students were also involved with figuring out how to make the solar project cost-effective. A new type of “power purchase agreement” means the schools did not have to put down traditional up front capital to fund the solar operations.
While the Monticello school project does synchronize with the governor’s plan for bringing strategic growth in the energy field, promoting alternative fuels and pursuing workforce development, it also illustrates what happens when people in their communities make smart decisions about tackling climate change and innovating in local economies.
People are catching on that solar power has reached a critical mass where it’s now fundamentally affordable. They understand the difference between drawing power from the sun, and drawing power from finite and problematic fossil fuels resources. And that kind of knowledge is exemplary in our young people — that’s what’s on display in central Virginia, where local schools shine as prime examples of renewable power projects, and other new solar projects are still moving forward to source more local energy from renewables.
Sun Day Solar can help businesses or property owners to pursue their own solar plans. We understand the process of making solar projects practical, and we assist with advising on various grant options. Even projects like the Monticello High School project relied on certain USDA grants, and Sun Day Solar understands the process by which clients use rural development grant processes to their vantage. Let us help build a solar power project on solid ground.