We’ve all heard about public schools that are struggling to find funding. Arts programs, books and supplies, and other school necessities are often cut to make funds available for the core needs of the school. Campbell County in Tennessee is no stranger to these issues, so they came up with a truly creative way of raising money for their 12 schools.
Each school is now equipped with a 50-KW solar system on the roof of the building. The county issued a bond to install the systems, and then the school district signed a contract with the Tennessee Valley Authority to purchase the electricity generated from the systems for the next 20 years. The revenue generated from this contract is enough to pay for the bond, the annual maintenance required on the systems, and give the school extra money that it could use for underfunded programs.
In a press release, the school system explained “During the first 15 years, the annual revenue generated from the sale of solar energy will produce an average annual surplus of $1,000-$1,200 per installation for Campbell County's coffers, after paying all bond principal and interest and any maintenance costs. When the 15-year bond has been retired each installation will generate approximately $13,000-$15,000 per year for Campbell County for years 16-20 of the power purchase agreement. Additionally, the system design life is 30 - 35 years; therefore, the county will benefit from cost savings long after the TVA contract expires, should TVA choose not to renew it."
Now that’s a thoughtful and creative solution to a pervasive problem in the education system. Perhaps other school districts across the nation will follow suit, and we may see a reduction in the number of struggling public schools.