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Coachella Valley schools save millions with solar

Published On: Apr 23 2013 02:15:23 PM CDT   Updated On: Apr 23 2013 02:50:00 PM CDT
Solar energy, green energy, renewable energy

Jeremy Harlan/CNN


Ten schools in the Palm Springs Unified School District are using the sun to save energy.

James Workman Middle School is the first in the district to install solar panels over it's parking lot.

"Sun Edison actually owns the panels," explains Julie Arthur, Executive Director of Facilities and Planning at PSUSD. "We are buying the electricity from Sun Edison. They actually can benefit from tax credits which school districts cannot."

     Sun Edison does all the maintenance on the panels.
     Palm Springs Unified locked in a rate of 17 cents per kilo-watt hour for 20 years, down from the 18 or 19 cents it paid before.

"Each one of these schools will probably save, in the first year, $100,000 on utility costs and roughly $26 million over 20 years total," said Arthur.

The money saved will go into the district's general fund and pay salaries, water, gas and other costs.

"Right now there's really no outgoing costs that we are going to be paying for this," Arthur says, "It's all in the contract and buying the power."

There are 1,000 individual solar panels at James Workman Middle School, another 3,600 at Cathedral City High School.

There's an added benefit many will take advantage of on a daily basis.

"Covered parking is worth its weight in gold here in the desert," laughs Arthur. "So our schools that will have the panels will have that benefit as well."

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