Independence County School Districts team up to save more through solar energy
Cedar Ridge Schools (CRS) and Midland School District (MSD) are among the first schools in the state to take advantage of the Solar Access Act to improve their facilities. With the assistance of Entegrity, the districts will see significant savings in their annual utility spending. These two school districts have a strong track record of staying proactive in managing their utility costs, with such projects as LED lighting, mechanical upgrades, and sustainable practices incorporated into their facilities. With their decisions to move forward with solar energy, the school districts continue to be good stewards of taxpayer money by redirecting utility spending back into their respective budgets.
CRS and MSD are unique by becoming the first districts in the state to utilize co-located solar energy technology. Cedar Ridge Schools Superintendent, Dr. Andy Ashley stated, “We are thrilled to work with Entegrity on yet another energy savings project. Not only are we saving money, we are improving the learning environment for our students and we are teaching them sustainable practices. I am proud to be a part of the first co-located solar array in the state, and I encourage more small districts in the state to explore the same.” Thanks to the Solar Access Act (Act 464), small schools can team up for a larger project that will result in better economics for the schools. These improvements are all in effort to keep as much of the school’s budget focused on student outcomes. CRS and MSD are planning to install a 1.36 MW single axis tracking. Under the new law, these schools will be locked into their new rate structures for the next two decades, resulting in guaranteed annual savings.
The efforts of Arkansas legislators to enable clean energy for public and private entities has kick-started Arkansas’s energy sector, resulting in job growth throughout the state. According to the Department of Labor, employment related to Solar Photovoltaic installation is expected to be the fastest growing occupation of the next decade. By bringing solar energy to schools, students will have early exposure to this technology, helping to better prepare them for their future careers.
• 1.701 MW at two different locations
• The PV systems will generate enough energy to offset the electricity use of more than 200 houses
over the course of one year
• Reduces the need to burn 2,284,903 pounds of coal
• First schools to co-locate solar installation under Act 464
With the various budget constraints facing these smaller school districts, the Superintendents were eager to implement the upgrades to their districts. Cedar Ridge and Midland Schools are districts that had previously merged with other schools in their area, beginning in 1985. As with any addition of new students, faculty and staff, their budgets have been curtailed by sheer growth. The savings on their utility bills by the earlier comprehensive upgrades, and now with the installation of solar, play an important role in the reallocation of funds to deliver a better learning environment for their students.
“We knew we wanted to benefit from solar, so we decided to collaborate with one of our neighboring districts by installing a co-located array. I encourage more small districts in the state to explore all options available before ruling it out,” stated Superintendent Wammack.
“Entegrity is honored to continue working with and to implementing these innovative solar projects. This is a smart way for smaller districts and other public entities to approach energy savings.” said Rick Vance, Regional Director of Entegrity.