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The Sun Goes to School

Anne Arundel County Public Schools opens solar farm

     Schools in Anne Arundel County welcomed back students this week with a lesson in renewable energy.
     Anne Arundel County Public Schools, the fifth largest district in Maryland with approximately 82,000 students, has gone solar. 
     A 1.4-megawatt ground-mount array, developed and constructed by Standard Solar, now sits on six acres of school system-owned land at the Fort Smallwood complex in Pasadena.
     “We have more than 13.4 million square feet of facility space and a $26 million utility budget,” said AACPS Superintendent of Schools Dr. George Arlotto. “It is essential that we reduce our energy consumption, explore renewable energy and be efficient with our energy use.”
     In 2013, the school system adopted a sustainability policy defining its green initiatives. Already, 68 of the county’s 125 school facilities are Maryland Green School awardees. 
     The solar farm, which contains nearly 4,000 panels, will produce 1,971 megawatt hours of electricity annually, saving the school system nearly $875,000 over the next 20 years. It will also cut carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to driving a car around the planet nearly 4,000 times.
     This project also helps meet the 20 percent energy usage reduction goal the school district signed on to as part of its commitment to the Better Buildings Challenge, a Department of Energy program to save money on energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create jobs.
     The solar farm is being financed by Standard Solar through a long-term power purchase agreement. The company will own, operate and maintain the system. 
“This partnership is a clear example of how school systems, counties, municipalities and more can benefit from solar and its resulting cost savings through taking advantage of smart financing,” said Standard Solar’s top man, Scott Wiater.