Schools in coal country are going solar » Yale Climate Connections – Yale Climate Connections

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Deep in the heart of coal country, schools in Wayne County, West Virginia, are going solar.

Conant: “The schools, they don’t have to pay for the equipment. They don’t have to pay for the panels, the labor. Instead, Solar Holler pays for all of that up front.”

Dan Conant is the founder and CEO of Solar Holler. The West Virginia-based solar developer has partnered with Wayne County Public Schools on what’s known as a power purchase agreement.

Solar Holler will pay to install thousands of solar panels on school district buildings.

And the district has agreed to buy the electricity produced by those panels for 25 years at a locked-in rate that’s lower than what they currently pay for electricity.

Conant: “So the schools know exactly what they’re going to be paying for their solar electricity for the next two and a half decades.”

He says the schools will save enough money on energy to pay for three teacher’s salaries.

So the project will help put money back into a district that has suffered serious revenue losses in recent decades, partly because of the coal industry’s declining tax base.

Conant: “The entire school system statewide is dependent on coal mining taxes.”

Conant says it’s one step toward ensuring that communities that have long relied on coal can benefit from clean energy.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media

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