The first fully solar-powered school district should happen this summer


Students in a small region of southern Iowa again see the great technological changes in the fall. The more workers were to transform school buildings in the first district of Iowa completely powered by the sun.

In January, the district WACO farm installed a large solar collector behind the building of the primary school in Crawfordsville. In July, work should begin in another solar farm next to the main building of the school in Wayland. When all is done, solar energy should provide more than 90 percent of the electricity needs of the district.

From the street, WACO elementary as little primary school building in the city. But Superintendent Darrell Smith said that when he heard the buzz of the orders of the collector panel behind the school, it’s the sound of money in the bank.

“The first conversation we had was, ‘How can we reduce General Fund spending and save money for the district wanted to help the general fund and has evolved”? We were the first to go full sun in Iowa, “Smith said.

The director said that the initial configuration of the solar panel has already had an impact, saving about $ 20,000 in energy costs, while from the beginning of the year. After that, Smith began looking for ways to expand the use of solar energy throughout the district.

Another large solar park is expected to land next to the main building of the school in Wayland. Smith believes will bring the percentage of the area supplied by the sun to more than 90 percent. Given cloudy days in Iowa, he said here that almost 100 percent of solar energy as expected.

On sunny days, the solar panels should provide the district as much as 110 percent of the energy used. With net metering, the surplus is returned to the system of Alliant Energy and brought credit to the district.

WACO solar Conversation became a teaching moment this spring as 5 and 6 students took daily measurements ahead and calculates the output power. Professor Chad McClanahan said students began rooting for sunny days for the system to produce more energy.

“That gives you a sense when you can see what is happening and it makes a difference when it comes to science and green energy, and then say” Come look, “he said.

Superintendent Smith said WACO struggled trying to reach the final push spring sun. The original solar park was financed by a tax of one cent local option. But this money might not cover an additional system. The district wanted to take advantage of solar tax credits and private investment needed to buy the system with a lease-back and eventual sale of the district. Iowa law has no rules to cover this type of financial agreement.

Smith said the Iowa Department of Education has worked with the neighborhood and eventually found a way to make the project a reality. So when the sun shines at the end of August, this means more savings for the district of about 500 students.

It is expected that members of the Board of Directors of the WACO school for open tenders and approve the solar expansion in mid-June At least a dozen school districts in Iowa contact the responsible WACO ask how they did it.