The Orleans Community School District is saving money on its electric bill with the help of new solar fields on school grounds.
Superintendent Gary McClintic says the corporation first considered switching to solar power about five years ago, but couldn’t afford them at the time.
Now, they’ve installed two acres of paneling outside of Orleans Elementary School.
The panels have been operational for about three weeks. He says on sunny days, they power the entire school – and even generate some extra energy.
“So that goes back on Duke’s grid, and we get credit for that,” McClintic says. “So when we do need energy, we use that credit up first.”
And work is underway on roughly four and a half acres of paneling on part of the high school’s cross country track. The total cost for the project is about $2.3 million. McClintic says that rather than raising taxes or paying through debt service, the schools will pay $160,000 a year for the next 20 years to cover the cost. He says that’s the amount they used to pay for electricity.
The schools also have a zero net metering deal with Duke that lasts for the next 30 years, so once they’ve paid off the installation costs, the schools will still save about $1.5 million overall.