How Solar, Storage & Microgrids Save Money at K-12 Schools: Free Livestream Discussion

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Microgrid Knowledge hosted a livestream discussion August 27 with schools that are installing solar, energy storage and microgrids as a way to save money — and in some cases even earn revenue from their systems.

school microgrids

Courtesy of Rocky Mountain Institute

The discussion, “Solar Microgrids for K-12 Schools: Saving Money,” is now available as a  free replay.

“Schools are under incredible strain this year as the academic year opens to chaos because of Covid-19. So it may seem like a strange time to make capital improvements to school buildings,” said Elisa Wood, editor-in-chief of Microgrid Knowledge and livestream moderator. “But as you’ll hear from the school leaders on our panel, these projects are reducing energy costs at schools and in some cases even generating revenue, which the schools apply to other pressing needs.”

The panelists are:

  • Laura Capps, president, Board of Education at the Santa Barbara Unified School District in California
  • John David Head, director of school operations, Acton Boxborough Regional School District in Massachusetts
  • Craig Lewis, executive director, Clean Coalition
  • Tish Tablan, program director, Generation 180

The Santa Barbara Unified School District issued a request for proposals (RFP) in May for at least six school microgrids as part of a solar and resiliency project that encompasses 15 locations.

Capps describes why and how she pushed for the project after analyzing cost savings achieved by other school districts that had installed clean energy. 

Tablan discusses findings from a recent solar study by Generation 180, which includes several examples of schools achieving cost savings, among them the Batesville School District in Arkansas. The district was able to boost teachers salaries — the lowest among five districts in its county — with savings achieved from its solar installation.

Livestream participants also will hear about projects underway at the Acton-Boxborough school district, which serves 5,500 students. Head describes a Tesla energy storage system now being installed on the main campus that is expected to generate $88,000 per year in revenue. The district also is working on a solar/storage microgrid for a new 177,000 square-feet school.

Lewis  describes methods the Clean Coalition has pioneered for ranking the value of resilience and managing battery capacity. The Clean Coalition assisted in development of the Santa Barbara RFP.

To learn more about solar, energy storage and microgrids in schools, watch the panel discussion here

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  1. “The discussion, “Solar Microgrids for K-12 Schools: Saving Money and Educating for the Future,” will run from 2-3:15 pm and include an opportunity for the audience to ask questions of the panelists.”

    Personally, I’d like to see a year without a structured school system and see what the “standardized testing” says about student learning and retention rates without a school building to go to. IF one (really) wants to Save money and Educate for the future, it’s time to get (brutally) honest and see if less interaction can be turned into better learning results.
    Covid-19 has forced itself into the narrative and rote excuses to cement a job position is not the only thing important as we go forward in this forced social experiment. So, how are the statistics now as compared to last year? School shootings, drug overdoses, bullying, hazing and overall violence, are these incidences among students down? Why oh why would one want to send their kid back into this environment? I’d say, if a particular class didn’t have a lab component with hands on experience, there is no need for a ‘student’ to go to a campus at all.

    That being said, if a solar PV and energy storage system was placed on all “public school buildings”, a PPA signed with the local utility could generate grid services that could be used to keep these entities supported for a different business model and operation mode or condense school building resources and get rid of some of the onerous taxes that keeps these entities open now.

    • I hear where you’re coming from, however social interaction and learning how to handle others is an important part of learning and emotional intelligence. I’m sure there’s a lot to be improved upon in our educational system in teaching students these skills, but I can’t imagine physical schools becoming obsolete any time soon. We need to be able to interact with each other in person.