school solar panels

Solar panels sit on the roof of Summit Elementary School in Smithfield, Utah, as seen on Friday.

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Lewiston and Summit Elementary Schools recently partnered with Rocky Mountain Power and Blue Sky to install solar panels in an attempt to conserve energy and lower expenses.

The project, estimated to save CCSD $16 million in operation costs over the next 20 years, was unveiled at Summit Elementary in Smithfield last month.

Cache County School District’s public information officer Tim Smith said the district selected Lewiston and Summit to experiment with the new method of powering the schools.

A 183-kilowatt solar panel system was installed at Summit Elementary, while 340-kilowatt panels were installed at Lewiston. Rocky Mountain Power’s press release stated that on average, 83% of both schools’ energy comes from the sun. A little over $600,000 of the project’s cost was funded by a Blue Sky program grant.

“The customers have to apply for the grant, and it’s only available to nonresidential customers and nonprofit organizations,” said Stacey Davis, the program manager for Rocky Mountain and Blue Sky. “So they applied and were selected.”

Blue Sky is an opt-in program that allows Rocky Mountain Power customers a chance to support renewable energy. The project in total cost $15 million.

Jasen Lee, media relations for Rocky Mountain Power, added that helping to lower costs is a huge point of the program. The solar panels are expected to save the district roughly $25,000 a year.

“That’s what the program does,” he said. “It partners with stake owners and tries to help them — in this case it was all solar — reduce energy costs and gives them help with grants to make that happen.”

The district had been facing rising energy costs for some time and enlisted the help of Johnson Controls, an efficiency solutions firm, to identify possible improvement measures. That’s how the district landed on Blue Sky.

“We’re excited how renewable energy projects like this can make a difference in the local community. By generating our own energy, we’ll free up more of our budget to focus on education,” stated Bruce James, Cache County district energy manager. “We appreciate the support from Blue Sky customers who made this project possible.”

Steve Liechty, Rocky Mountain Power’s regional business manager, stated he was excited to help the school district power a brighter future for the community.

“We’re part of this community too,” he stated. “We’re pleased that through our Blue Sky program, Rocky Mountain Power customers can support renewable energy projects while also helping out these vital organizations.”

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