Iowa school district makes major investment in solar power

Iowa City solar power
The cost of solar panels has dropped markedly in recent years. (photo by Rich Dana)

Waco Elementary in Crawfordsville, Iowa, looks like any small town schoolhouse, but something about the building sounds different. Humming behind the three-story brick institution is the first of two solar collector farms to be installed by the district. The panels already in place have saved an estimated $20,000 in energy costs, KCRG reports. Once the second installment is completed next to the district’s junior-senior high school in nearby Wayland, solar power alone will supply 90 percent of the district’s energy.

“The initial conversation we had was, ‘How can we reduce general fund expenditures and save money for the district?’ We were looking at helping the general fund and it evolved to ‘We were the first ones to go full solar in Iowa,’” Superintendent Darrell Smith told KCRG.

Though Waco only has around 500 students, other larger districts in the state will undoubtedly see the cost-saving benefits and, hopefully, find ways to convert their schools into similarly sustainable models.

According to their 2015 Facilities Master Plan, the Iowa City Community School District has no immediate plans to make renovations geared towards coal reduction.

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