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SJSD Considering Solar for Schools

Board of Education approves researching the possibility of solar. Deadline is Dec. 31 to make decision to take advantage of best rebate offers.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Going solar is the "in" thing now. The St. Joseph School District is thinking about jumping on board.

"If we can lower our tax paying expenditures for utilities, we're bound and determined to do that," said SJSD Chief Operating Officer Rick Hartigan. "This might be the opportunity we've been looking for."

At its last meeting, the Board of Education approved having the district look into the possibility of installing solar panels at its schools and other buildings.


"Based on the projects that we've seen, in year one this will save us about 31,000 annually," said SJSD Chief Financial Officer Beau Musser. "If electricity costs increase, of course those savings become more each year."

"If we can save taxpayer dollars at no risk to the school district," Hartigan said. "One of our goals is fiscal stewardship so we should take a look."

One of the challenges will be putting the new technology on some very old buildings.

"It's really the age of the roofs that might be the biggest deterrent," Hartigan said. "Can the buildings accept solar panels. That's really what the investigation will be."

Along with the age of the roofs, district engineers will need to look at the slope and make up of the structures.

"Old school with a slate roof. We're not going to put solar panels on that roof," Musser said.

"We can commit to solar panels, but we have to use good judgement and common sense in where we place them," said Hartigan

Staff say they will inspect every foot of the 30 acres of roof space across the district if it means saving money.

"That saying, 'a dollar here, a dollar there.' Pretty soon it's a lot of money," said Hartigan. "We look at this and over a 20 year period if we could save $1.6 million in electrical costs alone. My gosh, what an opportunity for the school district and the taxpayers."

In addition to all the cost savings, the district says there will be an environmental benefit as well. For each school that gets solar panels installed, they say it's the equivalent of per year, 606 trees being planted and 52,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere.

"We will be not only good stewards of our money, but our environment. I think our science teachers will really appreciate that," Musser said.

The district is working on a short timeline. They'll have to get a contract signed before the end of the eyar to take advantage of the highest tax rebates.
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