The Roof is on Solar: California School District to Launch Largest Install of its Kind

Credit: SunEdison.

A California school district is set to roll out the most comprehensive solar program of its kind in the United States.

The Irvine Unified School District plans to give final approval on Tuesday to install solar panels on rooftops at each of its 21 campuses.

The photovoltaic collection will become one of the largest solar installations at any school system in the country, Irvine officials say.The plan will "change the way schools teach our children. Not just in California but throughout the country," according to school board member Shelly Yarbrough.

Almost as exciting: The solar array won't be built with taxpayer bucks.

The schools are leasing space to SunEdison for the project, the Orange County Register reports.

The company will build and maintain the solar systems and sell discounted energy to the school district.

The district expects to cut its power bill by 20 percent with the installation, saving about $17 million over 20 years.

The solar system also is expected to generate more than 6.6 million kilowatt hours of solar energy in its first year, and offset 127 million pounds of carbon dioxide over two decades, according to Envirothink.

Under the roofs, teachers will be talking up solar in the classroom. Students will use an Internet-based monitoring system to track solar energy production and consumption at school sites in real time while taking part in lessons on how solar panels work
and how weather impacts energy production, school administrators say.

And SunEdison will be able to take advantage of tax incentives that aren't available to the schools.

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