Ohio School System Adds Rooftop Solar Field

Federal Hocking Local Schools had a "grand 'turn on'" of its new solar power plant. Now, 1,968 solar panels installed on the roof of the joint middle and high school building will provide energy to the Ohio school system.

The solar system is expected to generate about 700 kilowatts of renewable energy annually, which will cover about 70 percent of the building's energy needs during the year. The project was contracted to Third Sun Solar.

In local reporting, the project was promoted as a way to cut the cost of energy, reduce carbon footprint and teach students about the renewable energy industry.

Early in the project, Superintendent George Wood explained how funding the system worked: An outside company would own the plant and the school district would "buy energy from them at a reduced cost." The district also invested $400,000 from its reserve account to reduce the cost of the electricity it would be purchasing and to "speed up the buy-back option on the plant." By doing so, said Wood, "we will see reduced annual costs, accelerate our path to ownership and have more money for annual expenses."

He also suggested during the official launch that other schools should take the same route. "You’re generating cheap, clean energy. You’re getting an educational benefit from kids and you’re being a good steward of public resources. Seems to me it’s a win-win solution for everyone," he said.

Eventually, the school community will be able to track the energy produced by the site through an online dashboard that displays current power and energy generated for the day, month and lifetime of the installation.

Research by the Solar Foundation reported that the state of Ohio had 45 schools that have "gone solar."