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Installation of Solar Panels Begins at Huguenot High School

While most students and staff were on spring break, another group was hard at work - lifting and moving 1,800 solar panels and associated racking equipment onto the roof of Huguenot High School for what will be the largest of Richmond Public Schools’ ten-school solar panel project. When completed, this system will generate 630 kilowatts of power, providing the school with about 24% of its electricity needs. 

Earlier this year, RPS announced a partnership with innovative clean energy company Secure Futures Solar. RVA Solar Fund, a component fund of the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond committed the $100,000 award to support a Sustainability Associate position for RPS, as well as the purchase and installation of energy monitoring systems at selected school sites.

"The solar project will bring the three E’s to Richmond Public Schools - education, environment, and economics,” said Wendy Fewster, RPS Sustainability Associate. “Teachers and students will benefit from new STEM learning opportunities, we will generate and use clean energy, and save millions of dollars for RPS."

The energy information and control systems will connect with solar panels with no upfront capital costs to RPS. Under a 20-year power purchase agreement, the company will own and operate the solar arrays on several campuses with a total capacity of 2.59 megawatts, selling 100% of the solar power produced to the school division at a savings, which is estimated at $2 million over the life of the agreement.  

While Huguenot High School is the first project to get started, the systems at Lucille M. Brown and Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle Schools, and J.H. Blackwell, Broad Rock, J.B. Fisher, Linwood Holton, M.J. Jones, Oak Grove-Bellemeade, and G.H. Reid Elementary Schools will soon follow. Combined, the systems will generate the equivalent of 296 homes' energy use for one year and help RPS avoid 2,724 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. 

Each school will also have a dedicated Adaptive Resource Management System (ARMS) to monitor the solar production and energy consumption in near real-time. In addition, professional development opportunities, facilitated by the NEED (National Energy Education Development) Project, will be available for teachers that will cover Virginia Standards of Learning required material and help prepare students for the competitive 21st-century renewable energy job market. 

For more information about RVA Solar Fund, visit http://www.rvasolarfund.org/.

For more information about Secure Futures Solar, visit https://securefutures.solar/.