Schools across the country are grappling with declining budgets and rising electricity rates. In Arizona, electricity rates have increased almost 25% in the last decade. At the same time, the cost of solar power has come down and new financing opportunities enable schools to install solar systems without the upfront capital.
Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) took advantage of SolarCity’s Solar Service Agreement (SSA) to help four schools install solar arrays and lock-in years of future energy savings. Instead of owning the solar systems, SUSD simply pays for the power the systems produce every month. The power rate is set in advance and is typically lower than the electricity rates sourced from the utility grid, so schools can start saving money right away. The SSA provides a secure hedge against energy inflation and delivers millions of dollars in much needed savings.
SolarCity has installed more than 300 school projects to date and is well-versed in the challenges of executing construction projects at educational facilities. Schools often prefer to wait to begin construction until the summer, when school is not in session. However, the intense Arizona summer heat can be prohibitive for the men and women working; therefore, SolarCity developed a comprehensive construction plan and was able to meet the rigorous safety requirements and complete the installation with minimal disruption to students or faculty while school was in session.
All four SUSD schools, Coronado High School, Desert Mountain High School, Copper Ridge Elementary and Saguaro High School have flat screen displays that link to SolarCity’s PowerGuide monitoring system and show the system’s electricity output and pollution and carbon dioxide emissions avoided. The new educational tools are there to inspire students, families and teachers to go solar.